‘Every politician … needs to come here’

Vietnam%20Memorial-500

Not too many years after moving to the Texas Panhandle, my wife and I ventured west into New Mexico and discovered something in the resort community of Angel Fire that moved us both profoundly.

It’s the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial.

It was conceived and developed by a man whose son, David, was among the 58,000 Americans who died during the Vietnam War.

Mere words cannot begin to describe the power and pathos contained inside this memorial. It features the words of those who died. It tells the story — through letters written to loved ones back home and in diaries — of their fear, their apprehension, of their pride in the service to their country and of their love for each other as brothers in arms.

The late Victor Westphall’s memorial to his son comes to my mind today as the nation celebrates Memorial Day. President Obama laid a wreath today at the Tomb of the Unknown. Other memorials today will be visited by those who cherish the memories of those who have died in defense of the nation. We’ll pay appropriate tribute to those who gave their “last full measure of devotion.”

My wife and I took our time walking through this memorial. We tried to read every word that was written by the young warriors — and about them.

We emerged from the chapel. My wife’s eyes were moist. So were mine.

“Every politician who ever sends young men to war,” she said, “needs to come here and see this place.”

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