I spent the bulk of yesterday, Memorial Day, joining with other veterans reading at the Memorial Day Writers Project on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Nearly all the readers—there were a dozen or so—were veterans, and those who weren’t read pieces about veterans.
Much that I heard moved me. Readers shared stories about warriors who lost their lives defending the country. Those who follow this blog know that I grieve over soldiers and Marines who died in combat. Yesterday I heard from former soldiers, Marines, and airmen. It was familiar material, but it still hurt to listen to.
What impressed me the most was how much military ordeals shaped the veterans who offered their remembrances. I’ve written here before that my experiences in Vietnam changed me permanently. It was comforting to see that other veteran writers are just like me, transformed forever by what happened in combat.