With gratitude and pride

5 May

So many Americans have gone into the harsh, treacherous lands of war, lands devoid of comfort, security and peace. They have fought, have been wounded and many have died — for you and for me, for all Americans and all people who yearn to be  free.

We had not expected to see it; in fact we didn’t even know it existed A couple of years ago, it became a highlight of our visit with our son David, his wife, Susie, and his family. 

I’m speaking of the new and impressive National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center in Columbus/Fort Benning, GA. At that time, still lacking some planned displays, the museum has one that will never be surpassed. 

It’s called “The Last 100 Yards.” The last hundred yards of every battle is the deadly and all-important space between victory and failure. It’s where many men and women in uniform pay the ultimate price for our national security and freedom.

The exhibit is so very lifelike, peopled with reproductions of fighting personnel whose faces were crafted from the faces of  real soldiers. 

As you enter the exhibit, you find yourself in the midst of a battle in the Revolutionary War – complete with shouts and the sound and flashes of explosions. You proceed into all the major conflicts from the Civil War onward to World Wars I and II, to Korea and Vietnam and the Desert Wars. 

You see the wounded, hear the shouted commands. You see fighting men with weapons, scaling rope ladders to the top of a cliff. You get a good idea of what it must be like to place yourself in harm’s way, to know that you may lose a limb or two – or your life. You may not ever see you wife, children, parents and siblings again. 

But you press forward! You are a soldier, one who has already given his life to his country. You see death; you hear the cries of the dying. You pray. You hope – and you press on. You kill – and you will never forget it. 

As David led us through The Last 100 Yards, Peg and I could hardly speak. We were choked up with emotion. 

I was filled with gratitude and pride – gratitude for the countless men and women who have given so much so often; pride, because these are Americans, Americans who know the value of freedom and responsibility and are willing to pay the price for the preservation of our nation and our heritage.

Thank you all military personnel, all veterans — living and deceased.

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