Grateful…and Humbled

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There are places in our nation’s capital that I think should move the heart of even the most stoic individual. There are memorials to great women and men, there are historical places and museums, magnificent structures that house Congress, the Supreme Court, and of course, the White House.

Perhaps, though, there’s nothing that moves me more than the war memorials. There are memorials for many of our nation’s war where our young men and women bled and died in defense of our freedom. While I find them all moving, there is perhaps none that moves my heart as much as the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The other memorials, like the one for World War II, are beautiful and moving, but seeing the names carved into the simple, black wall makes it very real. Each name was someone’s son or daughter – real people.

I shot this picture of the wall after dark on my recent trip to Washington, DC in mid-November. It only seemed right to make it into a black-and-white version. God bless the families of our servicemen and women, living and dead. I hate to see what our country is going through. I hope that when all is said and done that we will still be able to live freely in this great land.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1964, the first Medal of Honor awarded to a U.S. serviceman for action in Vietnam was presented to Capt. Roger Donlon of Saugerties, New York, for his heroic action earlier in the year.

Captain Donlon and his Special Forces team were manning Camp Nam Dong, a mountain outpost near the borders of Laos and North Vietnam. Just before two o’clock in the morning on July 6, 1964, hordes of Viet Cong attacked the camp. He was shot in the stomach, but Donlon stuffed a handkerchief into the wound, cinched up his belt, and kept fighting. He was wounded three more times, but he continued fighting–manning a mortar, throwing grenades at the enemy, and refusing medical attention.

The battle ended in early morning; 154 Viet Cong were killed during the battle. Two Americans died and seven were wounded. Over 50 South Vietnamese soldiers and Nung mercenaries were also killed during the action. Once the battle was over, Donlon allowed himself to be evacuated to a hospital in Saigon. He spent over a month there before rejoining the surviving members of his Special Forces team; they completed their six-month tour in Vietnam in November and flew home together. In a White House ceremony, with Donlon’s nine surviving team members watching, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented him with the Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty.” Donlon, justifiably proud of his team, told the president, “The medal belongs to them, too.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: there are nearly 160 types or breeds of horses in the world, but the Arabian horse is unique in that it is the purest breed of them all.

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