Wednesday, January 05, 2005

SIlent Visitors

JOE HODGES writes:



They came in single file, about 50 of them. Silent ambassadors, to tell us who they were. They moved at a slow pace, passing us for over 20 minutes. Some walked, while others pushed their wheelchairs as best they could. Some were helped along on crutches by their wives or sweethearts.

They were escorted front and rear by U.S. Marines in dress blue uniform. I have never seen prouder Marines. The Amputee Ward from Walter Reed Army Medical Center visited the Pentagon today. I was there.

Some wore looks of resolution, pride, or dignity. Many had prosthetic devices where limbs used to be. All of them wore looks of surprise. We, the 26,000 employees of the Pentagon, lined both sides of the A ring (the inner ring of the Pentagon) to watch them pass and welcome them with thunderous applause. Half a mile they walked through a gauntlet of grateful fellow citizens two and three deep, who reached out to shake the hands of the remaining good arms, or grasp the remaining fingers of hands that have given ultimate service. They walked through us to the main concourse, where they were met by the Army Band and color guard playing martial music for them, and where the mall was filled with additional people who swelled the applause. Many of us just called out loudly, Thank
You, because we didn't know what else could be said; thank you for your service to us. The applause never stopped.

None of them spoke. They just cried. So did we.

It was the closest I have been to Christmas in a long time.

13 Comments:

Blogger The Oracle said...

Thank you for a humbling and inspiring start to my day.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Subsunk said...

Redleg,

I agree. Great way to start my day. God bless you and keep you doing what you are doing.

Subsunk

4:19 PM  
Blogger ALa said...

That was beautiful redleg -thanks for posting it... My soldier has left Walter Reed (there for 8 months) and is now back in Afghanistan (he requested to be returned)... I pray for him every day...

6:58 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

I wondered why blogging had been so light. I read your post vis a vis the brain tumor thing and I'm glad it turned out well.

As for this post, it made me cry, really, to hear such wonderful treatment of our men and women. Right after that, I read your post on women's Q&A and I started laughing. That has to be one of the best cathartic moments I've had in a long time. Thanks

7:17 PM  
Blogger redleg said...

Kat

the brain tumor was almost 2 years ago now and it left me a good scar, that's about it. Blogging has been light because I and the 82nd Airborne Division has been doing cheetah flips in every direction about everything in the free and not so free world. In other words situation normal. I did jump the Friday before the surgery and was back running a week after. My Doc was the one who would not let me deploy. One of the saddest moments in my life was watching my Brigade fly away into the night from Green Ramp without me. I don't know how the wives and spouses do it. And this post was from a friend of my father in law who works at the pentagram, sorry Pentagon.

5:03 AM  
Blogger redleg said...

Ala

It sounds strange but the unit is home. The desire to return is strong indeed in any soldier who cares about what he does. While pushing our guys out to Iraq I was down at Green Ramp talking to a personnel officer doing the manifest. He had been at Talil AB with the Division raer during the initial push into Iraq. A wounded 325 Infantry soldier came up to him and asked him where the 325 was because he wanted to get back into the fight. The officer noticed his wound was still bleeding and asked him where he had come from. Turns out the kid had gone AWOL from the EVAC hospital to get back to his company. This paratrooper picked himself up, hitchhiked to Talil (because thats the last place he knew the Division was) and tried to find his unit. As he still needed medical attention, they had to get him back to the hospital and the kid was crying when they told him he couldn't return. That is the kind of paratrooper we have these days and I am awed every time I see it. I wonder if our society is worth the sacrifice these kids lay down every day.
I remember before 9-11 talking derisely about the quality of young officers and soldiers. I was wrong in that. They are different, not worse. And they have incredible heart and they share the same American values most of us do. They do it in a different way and sometimes wear their pants baggier than us old guys. But I love them more every day I get to serve with them. The 'Stan is safer and getter better every day. We'll see with drug eradication coming along further every day there. The war there will change when that comes fully into play. Godspeed to your soldier over there.

5:14 AM  
Blogger Subsunk said...

Redleg,

I too used to worry about where our country was going with a selfish youth involved in the military. I thought I saw too much immaturity and selfishness from high school grads, and even from Naval Academy grads. But after a couple of tours I realized I just didn't speak the same language as they did. Their upbringing was different, but the values they all cherished were not so different than those my father and John Wayne movies gave me. I had one "Boat School" grad working for me on my second ship, and he once during a discussion of tactics in the wardroom, questioned why submarines would do anything so dangerous and aggressive as the tactic we were suggesting. When I told him that's what we expect to do in war, he acted like he hadn't signed up for that level of danger.

Naturally, I questioned his motives in joining the Navy and taking an important slot that other young men would have cherished at the Naval Academy. But I now realize his experience was related to the enticements of the times. No one advertised we would go to war and defend our way of life. They were only told, join the Navy and see the world, or get a free education.

I am so pleased to see that today's young men are every bit as tough, and every bit as compassionate to their fellow man as my father and the men of WWII. I don't miss John Wayne movies anymore. I feel like an extra in one. Our Army and Marine Corps are filled with them, and I am just the narrator in the States watching their wonderful spirit and lives play out in the most heroic fashion. I pray for them to come home safely every day. I recognize the tragedy of Greek proportions written for every one who doesn't come home whole. But their honor and integrity amazes me. I know I was never that tough.

God Bless You Red. My country is in good hands.

Subsunk

9:43 PM  
Blogger luckent47 said...

just read the post about the paratrooper hitchhiking back to his unit whilst wounded and it reminded me of someone i met once
ltc matt urban was my friend sean oconnell's uncle matt. he was an infantryman in france back in wwII.
read as much as you can about this guy its just incredible.
shot in the leg by a german anti tank round, sent to england,escaped the hospital, caled "the ghost" by the nazis.
how bad was it then, the guy was made ltc at 26, 26....
i served back in the eighties and am airborne qual'd and never saw any action, saved it for you guys. don't bitch, there's thousands of us cold war era soldiers that painted curbs and guarded trucks for years then left the service. you guys actually get to FREE PEOPLE!!
we all heard how shitty we wer compared to nam land era and they say the same thing every gen but the song remains the same. someone takes a shot at us and the kids mount up and shut them down. poor dumb bastards, rather be alive than free.

10:46 PM  
Blogger redleg said...

You have that right. As as a Cold War soldier and serving under the Clinton administration for 8 years, this is a breath of fresh air. And these kids have heart and fire...their pants are baggy but the American fighting man is a thing to behold. I don't think this country deserves them sometimes. I am honored to be around them. Thanks for your service.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Hello there redleg, I find reading blog articles like SIlent Visitors most rewarding. It enhances the experiences of life in many cases.

Being a webmaster I tend to sometimes have a soft spot for blogs related to and /or sites that are built around type items.

Once again, thank you redleg, and I will look for your posts again in the future. :-)

12:45 AM  
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Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a investor lead site. It pretty much covers Internet generated leads: annuities leads, LTC leads, mutual funds, insurance leads, etc..

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

6:06 PM  
Blogger Linklight said...

This blog SIlent Visitors is a great place for Guaranteed Traffic. Thanks redleg.

1:34 PM  
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1:23 AM  

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