It couldn’t have been a more glorious autumn day in DC for the annual Veterans Day ceremonies at the many military memorials. A perfect day to remember and be thankful for all those who have served us in the armed forces, especial those who paid the highest price for our freedom.
Some of my usual stops include the Vietnam Veterans Memorial where the The Three Servicemen Statue has recently been restored and overlooks the wall of names for the fallen Vietnam vets, including 8 women who were recorded.
A unique tribute made from the rubbings of names etched on the wall.
The wall helps people hold on to the memories of their fallen friends by taking home a rubbing or photograph of their etched names. In this image below, by the names reflecting back on the man’s jacket, I can’t help but think that those who have fallen want to be reunited their friends as well.
Love that these two guys can share an album of memories.
At The Vietnam Women’s Memorial (by sculptor Glenna Goodacre), there is storytelling throughout the day. Here the sun is shining in the direction of one of the women looking up anticipating a rescue helicopter.
One of the speakers was Air Vice Marshal Kym Osley, head of the Australian Defense Staff in DC who spoke about how the 60,000 Australian soldiers fought along side the Americans in Vietnam. And something else about them being known for lots of beer and partying…all to elevate morale of course. 😉
Across the reflecting pool is the Korean War Veterans Memorial with its own unique wall of memories. Instead of names, faces of the fallen are etched into the stone. There are also 19 larger than life sized figures of a symbolic squad on patrol. It’s particularly striking to see at night.
Often referred to as the forgotten war, somewhat sadly there seemed to be nothing more than a modest wreath laying ceremony there with a few vets.
With a recorded 33,645 killed in action and over 8,000 still missing, Korean War vets like Bob Mount take time to speak, especially at schools, to share their personal experiences for today’s generation. He is also spreading the word about the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress where stories of all vets will be recorded for future generations.
One of the newer memorials is the National WWII Memorial. Also particularly moving at night time.
My walk back was along a peaceful and glistening Tidal Basin under a canopy of autumn leaves from famous cherry blossom trees.
In Australia, my birth country, November 11 is called Remembrance Day traditionally commemorating the end of WWI at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. These days, it is a day to remember all Australians who have served. In Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance there is a particularly beautiful ceremony that occurs each year (and is simulated every day for visitors).
At 11 a.m. a ray of light from a strategic hole in the ceiling falls across the words “Greater Love Hath No Man” [than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends]. I’ve only actually seen it in person once and it is quite spectacular. Here is a clip I found of that service. At the conclusion you will hear a stanza from a poem (see below) often quoted with the people responding “Lest we forget.”
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. “ Laurence Binyon