Last night I stumbled upon The Traveling Wall. This half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC is in Nashville for the week. I slowly walked the full length of it, overwhelmed by the sacrifices of so many.
"Did you find all the names you were looking for?"
I couldn't see him, but I followed his voice across the wet grass. As soon as the four older gentlemen came into view, I knew...
I shook their hands, looked them in the eyes, and told each one how grateful I am for their service.
They invited me to join them, so I sat down between John and Wendell and listened as they reminisced. John had been a medic in the war, and grew emotional as he described some of the things he'd witnessed. "I will never forget those children's faces..." His voice trailed off as he looked away and just stared at The Wall.
There was a lot of solemn silence in our 30 minutes together.
But there was also sweet laughter, talks of fishing trips, jokes about the helicopter overhead, and the kind of adorable flirting only grandpas can get away with. ("Come to the fair in August, and I'll treat you to a plate of concession food on me!")
It was moving and wonderful and such a gift...
When I finally said goodnight, I walked away humbled and grateful for my short time with this band of brothers.