Sunday was Veterans Day and the weather turned out to be rather nice. For me the afternoon started with a walk north towards the Lloyd Center and quickly changed to a trip out to Washington Park to visit the Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial. It was just a beautiful day and I wanted to be out.
I have a weird relationship with Veterans Day. I am not a vet, never served in the military. My dad was in Vietnam but he never talked about it and I never asked. Through a weird series of events many years ago my dad and I had off and our respective wives were working. The two of us having nothing better to do we went to DC. First stop was the Vietnam Memorial and then we went to the American History Museum.
It was such a great day just hanging out with my dad. He passed away many years ago but I have never forgotten that trip to the city. I wanted to visit the memorial to remember my father. I miss him every day.
What should have been a straight shot train ride got derailed by an accident along the tracks. I just walked past the closed stop and onto the next one. Remember its a beautiful day and I love to walk. Eventually I made it to the park. The memorial is right there when you get off the train and if my understanding is correct this is also the bottom of Forrest Park.
Anyone can put a stone statue some place and call it a memorial. This one was much more than that. It was started by locals wanting to honor those that didn’t make it back from Vietnam. With years of fundraising the organization had the money they needed to start construction.
You walk down this path that leads to a fountain and small plague. Next the path spirals up the hillside. Along the path there are giant marble walls with all the names of the dead and the year they died. When you get to the end you see a list of MIA. Thankfully you can see that some of those names have been taken off. They didn’t make it back alive but they made it home.
I got to the top of the path and just had to take a seat for a while. All these emotions running through me. The lives lost to war, needless war. The lives of all those soldiers still fighting, doing what they think is best to protect America and our allies. And my dad. Greatest man I ever knew. I wouldn’t be who I am today without him and for that I am eternally grateful. I found some peace that afternoon.
Memorials are there for a reason and I was glad I got to the Vietnam Memorial. The weather was good, it was a holiday, and it was a Sunday. Just being there, sitting, thinking, and looking at everything around me. It was a great day. Let us never forget.