When a distant relative, who is currently serving in the armed forces, was given a major promotion in
Afterward, the former Marine toured of some sights in our nation’s capital with a special request to view the memorial honoring the World War II veterans who were part of the “greatest generation.” It was an emotional, powerful moment in her life as Bertha read the names and inscriptions written on the walls of the monument. She spent long quiet minutes pausing, reading and remembering.
One statement on the eastern corner of the memorial was particularly moving: “Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women. This was a people’s war and everyone was in it.” – Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby
Bert’s emotions reached their peak later when she discovered an interactive computer station that allowed her to type in the name of any World War II veteran and read a brief biography of their service. Slowly she typed in her own name and when she had finished, Bert’s picture came up on the screen along with some information about her tour of duty. There was even a mention about her being burned over 70% of her body by a falling chemical drum.
The former Marine stood motionless at the kiosk. Seconds later a single tear silently streamed down her cheek. Proud though she was, Bert, like so many others who simply did what they believed they had to do at the time, did not feel worthy of the honor.
Bert’s service and that of millions of others was not something they questioned or debated. The time had come for action, and action was how the nation responded to preserve the freedoms that she and her fellow American knew.
Early Monday morning, in the darkness of night, the government shut down for whatever reasons anyone wants to believe. In the end, it probably doesn’t matter who is to blame. What matters is that the country has changed since the seven decades that have passed since Bert went to war.
Perhaps what really matters is that we have lost our dignity as a country. We have lost our pride. We have yielded much of our standing in the world. And we have lost it because of petty arguments, lack of leadership and political power grabs all bundled around political correctness.
When WWII vets showed up at their open-air monument on Tuesday, it was barricaded and encircled by police tape. Normally the memorial is open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. It has neither non-essential nor essential workers patrolling the grounds. It is there as a tribute to the men and women of the armed forces who served during World War II and for all those who wish to honor them.
Now it was closed.
But not for long. Soldiers who stormed the beaches of
Officials at the site were not about to stop buses from parking or the vets from visiting. Soon others came to assist and, suddenly, those brave citizens, many in wheelchairs, many who could barely walk but all who would not be deterred from their mission, filed by to honor those who had paid the ultimate price for freedom at a time when our nation was unified rather than divided.
Some members of congress have given their time to protest the closing by assisting the veterans in their quest. Others have called it a partisan effort, a cheap shot, a photo op.
Maybe so. Such comments are symbolic of how cynical our country has become.
Pay attention to those vets, however, for they will not be stopped. They persevered just as they did in 1944 when they halted international tyranny because it was the right thing to do.
Now in the twilight of their lives, that same generation may once more be turning the tide of controversy by showing the rest of the country what it means to do the right thing.
If Bert was alive, she’d be leading the charge.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
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