“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is home of the brave.” When I recently came across that quote from Elmer Davis, it made me think of the Marines. Their birthday on 10 November and Veterans Day on 11 November reminded me of my long association with them and made me recall my visits to The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Monument in Constitution Gardens next to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Throughout my thirteen years in and out of Vietnam, I worked often with the Marines. I had great respect for them. But I have only visited The Wall only three times. It is too painful for me to be there.
I’ve written several times in this blog about Marines. I admired them, and they respected and used the intelligence I furnished them through the intercept and exploitation of North Vietnamese radio communications. They found it hilarious that I was on the battlefield with them, under cover as one of them—an enlisted Marine—when I consistently outranked their commanding officer. I will never cease grieving over the young Marines who died in combat near me. They were fine young men who had everything to live for.
I found some of their names on The Wall when I could bring myself to visit it. But it was too painful for me to return often. I do not relish weeping publicly.
When the pandemic is past, I’ll visit The Wall again. As much as it hurts, my time there offers my soul peace. May it always be so.