Veterans' Day 2005

I attended the re-dedication of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Fountain, along the Chicago River, on Veterans’ Day. It is a nifty little park, nestled along the south bank of the river, between State and Wabash streets. It was a beautiful day in Chicago—perfect for an outdoor event like this, with the brilliant fall sun shining about mid-day, and no wind (and this the “Windy City”), with a temperature hovering near sixty degrees, or so.

The politicians were out in full force (my, how they love a dedication!), with several hundred Vietnam Vets and their families providing a ready made audience.

Two things struck me, as I watched the dedication ceremony from various vantage points, and gazed at the weathered countenances of the vets who were in attendance. The first was: God, I look pretty good for my age!! It was hard to believe that most of the Vietnam Vets that I saw at the ceremony were in my age bracket. Some looked more like Korean War vets than Vietnam vets. I concluded that it must be that “clean living” that I adhere to religiously…hee…..hee… The second thing was a bit more serious. It is obvious that, even after thirty or thirty-five years, the wounds from that terrible war have not healed. There was an overwhelming pall of sadness that hung over the ceremony, with remembrances of sons and fathers lost, and families torn apart because of the war.

I shall stroll down to that park often, I think, and sit in silence, as I remember a war that seemed so long ago.

“Hey, Lieutenant”, I hear our company clerk, Tom, call to me, “your Jeep’s ready. Want to take a ride with me into Saigon, this morning? Safer than taking the morning ‘copter shuttle to MACV Headquarters and the Embassy compound. I haven’t lost anyone on Highway 1 yet!”

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