Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Visiting the Korean War Memorial with an Iraq War Vet

I visited the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC a few years ago. I had gone to the east coast for a homecoming ceremony for an adopted soldier 'son'. He and I spent a day on the Mall and visited the major monuments. Neither of us had seen the Korean War Memorial.

We approached it from the back. The life size figures appeared to be moving, their ponchos being blown by the wind. Walking between the field of soldiers and a black wall etched with faces from the war and reflecting the figures was a very powerful statement.

But, the most powerful moment of all, was watching a group of Korean tourists standing by our flag at the front of the monument - their faces full of emotions that only those who were there could possibly feel. One elderly woman stood staring at the soldiers with tears running down her face. She looked over at a group of high school kids and pointed at the inscription on the reflecting pool -- FREEDOM IS NOT FREE -- and said, "Remember." I don't know if they understood the significance of the moment, but I did and it was profound.

When I turned to look at my friend, I could see that he was fighting the tears, as I was, and he said, "one day there will be a monument to Iraq and Afghanistan and they will send tourists that will understand all we gave for their freedom." I believe he is right.

No comments: