Friday, May 27, 2005

The Wall

Knoxville
We walked to the Metro Stop, about five blocks and rode downtown to Union Station which is still in the process of being renovated. After wandering around there for a bit we caught a cab to The Wall. I wasn't dressed as I planned, when I slammed on my brakes during the unfortunate incident of the bumpers in Atlanta my only dress shirt (that we packed) ended up knocked off the hanger and ended up under the ice chest, soaked and dirty. Instead of wearing my weddings and funeral suit I wore my fancy bright red western bib shirt. You've seen them on John Wayne in his westerns. Anyhow, I'm somewhat more comfortable in blue jeans, a western straw hat and poliched boots.

It was a gray, windy day, cold enough that I should have worn my felt Stetson but it's not nearly rainproof. I was glad for the bib shirt, they do a real good job of keeping the wind from whipping down the collar a la that old country song 'Anybody Goin' to San Antone', Charlie Pride did the best job, the Texas Tornados an almost-close second.

We paid a few extra bucks to the cabby to show us a few of the sights on the way, we saw the Capitol Building from a few angles, when we stopped near the State Department the guards gave us the hairy eyeball, we moved away quickly. We must have seen someone important driving, a convoy of police motorcycles, black Suburbans and one limo, sirens ascreamin and lights aflashin. We weren't close enough to see who it was.

We got to The Wall and walked on down. Linda Lou and I walked it once and then I put her on a bench and returned. It would have been more emotional for me, perhaps, had it not been for all the giggling kids. Still, powerful. I didn't look at my watch, I have no idea how long I stayed. While I was walking between panels a Park Service guy asked me about where to find those bib shirts, we'll meet him again, later.

It was easy to tell the other vets in the crowd, just a matter of finding the somber old farts. I met the mother of one of us that didn't beat the odds, she was on one of those wheeled walkers with a cushioned shelf-seat being pulled around by her middle-aged daughters. We spoke for a few minutes while her daughters made a pencil rubbing of his name. Her son was Army so I didn't know him, although he was my brother. While we were talking a Viet-American came up and thanked her, it made my day. I went back to the panel where some friends were listed, said a little prayer and wished I'd remembered to bring a six-pack to leave. I was really annoyed at the kids pulling out and reading the notes left stuck in the cracks between panels, it seemed a real invasion of privacy. I thought I was going to be in a fistfight over the one kid just dropping the note instead of putting it back. Still, after I mentioned showing a little respect he did put it back and I only suffered a dirty look from the parents. Bein' a married man I'm used to dirty looks.

I wandered up, collected Linda Lou and we saw a high school band from a small town in Missouri, Nixa if I remember correctly, playing between the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflection Pool. The kids were in T-shirts, they must have been freezing their hinies off but they played well. We got there during the last of the set, the only complete song we heard was America The Beautiful.

I walked up the steps and went in the Linoln Memorial while Linda Lou sat on a bench, since she tore her ACL she doesn't do anymore stairs than absolutely neccessary. After that we went to see the two statues by The Wall, the three soldiers and the nurses and the fallen soldier. I really wish the person who did the three soldiers statue had the slightest idea of what an infantryman looks like. The peabrain put two of them without hats, not knowing that we would have all died of the heatstroke wandering the bush without something on our heads. Worse, was the belt of M-60 ammo around the one guys neck, with no padding and the pointy bullets sticking his neck rather than pointing out. Idiot artist.

As we were leaving the Park Service guy caught up with us and gave me one of those small flags that had been planted for a ceremony, one of two hundred. If he mentioned what the ceremony was, I don't remember. I didn't recall mentioning to him in our conversation that I'd spent my time over there, maybe I did, maybe he just has seen enough of us to know. I wish I'd had it to give to that mother, instead I'll put it on the wall of my study/gunroom.

I'll write some more later, right now I've got to get Captain Fatbob the Pug out of Knoxville before Professor Reynolds tries to make a Smoothie out of him. On to Nashville and then, Little Rock for the night.

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