Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Those who Travel tend to travel more
This past Friday my children and I traveled to Washington DC about a 3 1/2 hour drive from VA Beach 8 days before moving back to southwest Florida. Some may think I am crazy and perhaps I am but making the trip was worth it. Our destination the National Museum of American history http://americanhistory.si.edu/militaryhistory/ for The Price of Freedom Americans at war exhibit. War is a part of our life, not one that many of us like but this is a reality that I hope never becomes a TV show. Our military history is significant and worth learning about the conflicts, the impacts and of course, the cost.
This was a very sobering display of military history. There were not a lot of children. (at the entrance there was an advisory concerning the graphics of some displays) It was pretty quiet as so many were reflecting and taking things into their hearts and minds. I was moved on a number of occasions.

Our country was birthed through the pains of war. The first part of the exhibit had a combination of film, statutes and actual muskets among other things for the Battle of Lexington. I believe the film was from the Lexington Concord reenactments which I had been to as a kid with my Dad and siblings. (I grew up in the neighboring city of Woburn) Michael was fixed upon this scene intently and I intently upon him from a short distance. Our boy has talked about serving in the military. Some may think we ought to discourage him but I want Michael to be able to follow his heart and his Lord. I was praying that he would see the high cost that so many pay to serve in such a way.

Shortly after entering the Civil War section there is a circular exhibit with a great big picture of Lincoln (if you would like to see our pictures online send me an email and I will send you a link) and next to it his Gettysburg address. (Grace has always loved our 16th president, if you want to know anything about Lincoln ask her) Grace read it aloud to me at my request. Those powerful words say to me, there are some things worth fighting for and dying for...... it was a most tremendous loss of life but those veterans were honored.

Katie brought me to the Medal of Honor exhibit. "Mum," she said, "there has only ever been one woman to receive the medal of honor." We read about Dr. Mary Edwards Walker who during the Civil War was a nurse and surgeon. Her Medal was rescinded but she refused to give it back. It was however reinstated in 1977.

Vietnam, the war that I still don't understand brought me to tears. I have a friend back in Marlborough who is still suffering from his tour of duty over 30 years ago. Some of the photos showed me why the pain runs deep and wounds have a hard time healing. There were items that were selected from thousands of personal affects that have been left at The Wall of the Vietnam Memorial over the years. The most moving part of this was the video of a nurse who rescued an abandoned Vietnamese baby girl who ended up being adopted by an American couple and were recently reunited. The nurse has a classic Boston accent and it made me miss home and she also had a heart (haht) of gold. She remarked that this little girl was one of the good things that came out of one of the most horrendous wars.

Each major conflicted that the USA has been involved in was shown in this exhibit. Steel columns from the 17th floor of the World Trade Center from 9/11, a laptop, ID tags and a cell phone from an embedded newsman from NBC who road with a crew in Iraqi Freedom. Nothing was omitted. There is a time for war and a time for peace. There are different reasons for wars. The war on terror that we are in now is not easy to define or understand. The question is are we justified?
Signing off from VA Beach. The next time I write will probably be either on the road or from FL.

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