Monday, July 16, 2012

After The Parade

There were Independence Day events literally going on all week in Cody, and on the 4th of July there were special events to commemorate the day scattered throughout the city.
LC and I after the parade elected to go to the VFW.
There were military speakers, a bar-b-que, and a room decorated in memorabilia from wars that our men and women had fought in behalf of our country.
Located only a few blocks off main street LC dropped me off outside the VFW and I told him I would wait while he searched for a parking spot.
As I stood in the sunshine on what had turned out to be a very warm but not hot day, I looked across the street and saw these two guys.
They were standing at the open windows of a large Marine trailer, under the shade of a large tree, contentedly watching the unusually busy world go by.
They were beautiful, proud looking, healthy looking animals and they made me smile................
One of the four wheelers that was in the large July 4 parade through town, still decked out in red, white and blue.............
After finding LC again I looked over to the left of the building and saw yet one more (this time bigger) trailer, also containing more proud and beautiful horses.
As with the first two, I walked closer to them so that I could study them more closely, and so that they could see me.
I know now something that I did not know until we moved to Cody last year.  That horses are intelligent, curious, attentive animals and I watched them for a moment watching me...................
Looking over at the outside tent that was set up, and then the long line of visitors waiting for their grilled hot dogs and hamburgers my Mountain Boy and I elected to first go inside.
After searching for the building and then searching for a parking space we quickly realized that we had missed the officer who was scheduled to speak.
I also realized that this small and busy place was going to get claustrophobic very quickly.
Too many people.  Too much blue and white and noise and........too much...........
After spending a couple of hours among the masses watching the parade, LC and I elected to see the memorabilia and then leave.
I had had a good morning but I was close to being maxed out...................
The large room was filled with many things that were both familiar to LC and interesting to me, and in this quiet room I spent more time than I expected wandering and looking.....................
A walking encyclopedia of gun knowledge stood beside me eagerly regarding each of the firearms, and telling me names and years and velocities and rounds and grains of powder per bullet, and I stood first looking at the guns and then looking at LC and was again in awe of his knowledge.
The man knows guns...................
After my first husband and I divorced I briefly dated a military man
We spent a few days in Washington DC at one point and the the guy each day wore a baseball cap with the word Vietnam emblazed across the front.
We spent one very long day wandering through the parks and looking at all of the memorials that were located there.
We were both from Canada and I knew no-one up to that point who had ever fought in war.
Eventually we found our way to the Vietnam Wall and seeing it touched me deeply.
Reading the seemingly endless list of names of thousands and thousands of boys who died too soon, etched into the deep blackness of the stone partitions.
And then looking over to see people paging through books. 
People all searching for the name of someone who had been close to them - a friend or a family member or a school mate or a team-mate that they used to know - who had died too young.
I had no personal ties to Vietnam at that point in my life and was from Canada so expected my visit to the Wall to simply be one more interesting statue that we visited during our trip.
It unexpectedly turned out to be so much more and I didn't (and still don't) really know why.
The poignancy of those searching for a name or the starkness of the wall itself or just the realization that so many had perished.
The guy I was with and I walked out of a hotel room the next morning, he still wearing the baseball cap.
Just a few minutes after leaving the hotel room an elderly man approached us and asked the guy I was with if he had served in Vietnam.  The guy told him yes.
And then the elderly man emotionally shook his hand and thanked him for his service.
The guy I was dating was in the Canadian military at the time but had never been to war and had never served in Vietnam.
I looked at him as he was shaking the old man's hand and suddenly saw him in an entirely different light.
After we got back to Canada I never went out with him again.................

My first husband was in the military.
LC was in the military.  So was his cousin and his father and his grandfather.  So was my youngest son.
I am always moved by their service.  Their sacrifice.  Their solidness of character.  Their strength.  Their resolve.
Seeing these things in this room brought home to me again (especially regarding LC and my son) that they had seen war.
I am eternally grateful to them..................
I continued to wander while LC stopped frequently to talk with one man or another who was either visiting the room or was one of the VFW reps hosting the display.................
I was surprised that there was nothing from Desert Storm, Iraq or Afghanistan.
But there was a lot of interesting and unique items from WW2 and Vietnam................
Soldier Sleep
by Roger W Hancock

In a shallow muddy trench
A soldier lay sleeping,
Dreaming horrifying visions,
of prior day’s battles.
Firefight to win the hill,
killing to preserve the valley.
Brother comrades wounded,
bodies of the fallen.
Restless dreams all night,
nightmares lived by day.
Blood mixed in muddy trench,
smeared on camouflaged fatigues.
Cannot fade away the horror,
when by night, eyes close.

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