Dedicated to the forgotten casualties of war, the families of the fallen heroes. The spouses of the fallen are always in our prayers.
It’s morning again. Fall, pleasant temperature, some clouds, trees still full, leaves changing. The obelisk of the Washington Monument is in the distance. All so familiar, I have been to The Wall so often. I look on its black granite edifice, the v shape, high point in the middle, each side tapering down along the walk to the end. That walk, concrete slabs, bordered on each side by cobblestones, the single chain fence opposite The Wall, protecting the grass.
There’s a family here today. They look familiar, a woman in her sixties, a man in his forties; he looks like the woman, but with subtle differences. The man has two teenagers with him, a boy, maybe fourteen looks like the man, a girl a little older, she looks different, yet you can tell they are related. The man and the woman are really sad, especially the woman, she has tears in her eyes. They come near me, and the woman reaches out, toward me actually, and I return her gesture. Our fingers touch, yet she does not notice the touch. She begins to weep, I would love to embrace her, but dare not.
The man comes up behind the woman, touches her shoulder, whispers to her. Then he approaches me, he holds up a piece of paper, I go to reach for it, but he just holds it, right there, in the air, in front of my face. Now he seems to be doing something to it. Coloring on it, and I wonder how does he do that, in the air, nothing to lean on? I begin to move, to get a better look, and I sense there are others here. I look to each side, and there are many, standing silent, all in uniform, combat gear. I look down. I see my Marine utilities. I wonder at that, I don’t remember putting them on. I don’t even know what day this is, or why all these men in uniform are here. Is it Veteran’s Day already?
Now I look back at the man, and he is leaning on something. It looks like words, but they look funny, backward maybe. Then the words make sense. It’s a name, my name. I’m not at The Wall. I’m on it. The woman before me, I know her now, from a long time ago, she was young, and she was holding a baby, the man next to her, when he was a baby, our baby, our son. I have their picture right here, in my helmet liner.
They have come to say goodbye. I wish they could hear me. I wish they could hear me say, “I love you, I will always love you.” I wish they could hear me say, “Don’t cry for me, I’m here with my brothers and sisters. We are no longer at war. We are at peace now. I wish you were, too.”