Veteran's Day Story!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by bwaites, Nov 11, 2007.

  1. bwaites

    bwaites Well-Known Member

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    By JOSEPH L. GALLOWAY
    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.
     
  2. shorty

    shorty Well-Known Member

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    Jan 11, 2007
    Thanks for sharing this on this special day, bwaites.
    God bless them indeed!
     

  3. Shawn Carlock

    Shawn Carlock Sponsor

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    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.
     
  4. yotefever

    yotefever Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing!!
     
  5. CSPSgt

    CSPSgt Well-Known Member

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    Oct 2, 2007
    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.[​IMG]