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Veteran's Day Story!

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Unread 11-11-2007, 09:18 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Central Washington
Posts: 491
Veteran's Day Story!

McClatchy Newspapers

Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force
personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is war.
Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and facing
months or years in military hospitals.

This week, I'm turning my space over to a good friend and former
roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman , who recently completed a
yearlong tour of duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon. Here's
Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills the
halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and
many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the
Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for
America Website.

"It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of the Pentagon. This
section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the
hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire
length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some
civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls.
There are thousands here.

This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army' hallway. The G3 offices
line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate
conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each
other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way
and renew. Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the
center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of
bodies in this area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.
"10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost
of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to
the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause
with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the
length of the hallway.

"A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier
in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is
the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his
wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private,
or perhaps a private first class.
"Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and
nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I
described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat
different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for
not having shared in the burden .. yet.

"Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the
wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I
think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's
chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.
"Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of
his peers, each private, corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a
field grade officer.

"11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and
I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. My hands
hurt. Please! Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after
soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come
with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30
solid hearts. They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and
then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor,
hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting
out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up,
down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching
handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade.
More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

"There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing
her 19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why her
husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who
had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who
have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for
the emotion given on their son's behalf. No man in that hallway, walking
or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks.
An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the
officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the
past. These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our
brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every
single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.

" Did you know that? The media hasn't told the story."

How I wish that I could stand in that hallway and clap until my hands
ached!!! God bless them.

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

Thomas Jefferson

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Unread 11-12-2007, 10:31 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 272
Thanks for sharing this on this special day, bwaites.
God bless them indeed!
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Unread 11-12-2007, 12:53 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: North Idaho
Posts: 1,888
It is terribly unfortunate that the public in general does not understand the cost of freedom and the small % of people who actually provide it. The number of warriors in this nation are a small %, military, law enforcement, etc. It is this small group of people that provide our free way of life. We owe them more than we can ever repay. Next time you see a vet, current military, or LEO just tell them THANK YOU.
Shawn Carlock

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Unread 11-12-2007, 09:13 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 457
Thanks for sharing!!
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Unread 11-13-2007, 05:36 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Windsor Colorado
Posts: 47
Originally Posted by Shawn Carlock View Post
It is terribly unfortunate that the public in general does not understand the cost of freedom and the small % of people who actually provide it. The number of warriors in this nation are a small %, military, law enforcement, etc. It is this small group of people that provide our free way of life. We owe them more than we can ever repay. Next time you see a vet, current military, or LEO just tell them THANK YOU.
Actually it's worse than not understanding, it's that they DO NOT want to know. After a quarter century in law enforcement it was time for a fifth career. I now work for a testing company that is on site at the major PC, printer and scanner company in the US. When something comes up in the world or local community I usually get a few questions on how and why. The normal feeling is that can't happen here, not in our community, that just happens some place else or how could that happen over there. When I explain what is going on and how long it has been going on they are shocked. It doesn't take much to get that deer in the headlight look. Most just go away and try to forget and get back to their safe and protected little world. As long as someone else takes care of it for them and they aren't directly effected they are happy, they DO NOT want to really know. But a few get a real eye opener and change their opinion of their world just outside the door at work here in Fort Collins or across the sea. So because of that I'll keep educating them one person at a time and you keep doing it to. Eventually we will get enough that understand and care.
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