BY CAROLYN WATERMAN
Today is Veterans’ Day, a day that means much to me as I am the daughter of a World War II veteran, the wife of a Korean Conflict veteran, and the mother of a Cold War veteran.
Fortunately for us, all three of them finished their tours of duty healthy and whole. I know this is not the case for thousands, yea, millions.
My father, as a World War II veteran, received the thanks of a grateful nation. However, my husband and son came home to “ho-hum,” until this past October.
My husband and I took a wonderful trip to Virginia and visited Civil War and Revolutionary War sites. I felt privileged to stand in the room where Gen. Lee surrendered to Gen. Grant. As I stood there I said, “great-grandfather, this is for you.” He fought with a Vermont regiment. We culminated the trip in Washington, DC, visiting the three great war memorials between the Washington monument and Lincoln Memorial. I visited the World War II memorial for my father, proud to do so. We visited the Vietnam Memorial and found the name of my husband’s high school classmate who died in Vietnam.
However, the most powerful experience came at the Korean memorial.
My entire goal for this trip was to have my husband visit that memorial. He spent a year in Korea. That monument is absolutely haunting. Thinking about it now gives me chills.
Darwin looked at those figures and the entire setting, and was reminded of his time there.
I looked for the perfect spot to take his picture. When we found it, I asked him to stand by one of those seven-foot figures. He did so. I snapped the picture.
Someone asked me why I was taking his picture with the figures. I answered, “Because he was there.” An “oh” went through the small crowd standing there.
Then, a strange thing happened. Four or five people – older men and women, and younger people – came up to him and thanked him for his service. He felt like a hero. He told me after we left that that was the first time in 50 years anyone had ever thanked him for his service in Korea.
I was thrilled. He deserved it, and has for over 50 years. That made our trip truly meaningful.
– Carolyn Waterman lives in Bethany, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer