Every Veteran’s Day I am reminded of one of the best vacations ever. Five years ago (gosh, has it been that long?) Jesse and I spent four days in Washington DC with my uncle and his family for the Ia Drang Valley Veteran’s Reunion. I have mentioned this before in several different posts, but I wanted to share some photos and memories again. It was just such an eye-opening experience. Just reading the book, "We Were Soldiers" is an experience you will not forget, but to be with the veterans and their families on Veteran'’ weekend in Washington DC was awesome. These men, this band of brothers, were so humble and loving. On the surface they seem like normal men, but to me – knowing their sacrifices, they are heroes. The first day in DC before we went sightseeing, we spent time in the hospitality room of the hotel getting autographs. Here is Jesse with Ret. Gen. Hal Moore and Joe Galloway. I love this pic of her and the color guard from Ft. Hood. Notice in these pictures how young Jesse looked.
Then we went sight seeing – having a real pilot/wizo (Capt. Jeff) take you through the Air and Space Museum is so much better than just reading the plaques. Later we got dressed up and went to the banquet. One of my uncle's vet buddies was shocked to see Jesse, because he had assumed she was about 15 yrs old - then suddenly she did not look so young after all. Uncle Bob made sure that Jeff wore his dress blues – the Vietnam Vets were all over Jeff wanting to know about his Iraq War experiences. It was just funny that Jeff was trying to get pictures and autographs of the vets, but they were trying to get pictures and autographs of him.
Sunday morning at dawn, there was roll call at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. I can’t begin to tell you how moving it is to hear the names of those that died read aloud by Gen Moore and Mr. Galloway.
Later we did more sightseeing. Then before Jesse and I flew home on Veteran’s Day, we went to the Arlington National Cemetery. Here are the sights that met our eyes. At first we did not know what was going on, but we were enjoying the photo ops. It turns out that President Bush was going to speak that day and security was tight. You can see the camera setting up at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We did not stay for his speech, because we had a plane to catch and things to see before we left. We continued our sightseeing tour including visiting the Iwo Jima Memorial. It was such an amazing experience, the next year we took Toby with us.
Veterans are just an amazing group of people – tell one "thank you" today.