September 13, 2006

The Memorials

Mini Red and I left the office a little after 5pm. We had no problem finding a parking space on Ohio Drive. Mini Red was excited and I love watching her like this.

The first Memorial we came upon was the Korean War Memorial. I realized I hadn’t seen it except in pictures. The life size men as well as the faces on the wall were great.

We walked towards the Lincoln Memorial and Mini Red said “Look Mom there it is! Wow! That’s a lot of steps!” Earlier my friend Thom suggested I have Mini Red run up and down them since she sat in the office all day. When I told Mini Red this she said, “We can walk up together at a regular pace and you right by my side.” She was amazed at the amount of steps but excited to get to the top. The view is great and I couldn’t help but want to kick myself for not revisiting these memorials let alone experiencing them with Mini Red. She pulled out her phone and started taking pictures. They’ve all turned out fuzzy but this one is my favorite:

We headed toward the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial and I felt some funny knots in my stomach. I don’t think I’ve been here since before Mini Red was born. I was there for the dedication and I was there ten years later for the Ten Year Anniversary and Re-dedication. We immediately went to find Steve’s name on 13W. (Steve is my biological father who died in Vietnam when I was a baby. I was lucky enough to be raised by a wonderful Man who is truly in all sense of the word my Dad. I respect him more than any other man I have ever met and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.) We were searching 13W with no luck. There was a man searching the same piece of wall and he asked the name and helped us search. We soon realized I had the wrong panel and this man and Mini Red found Steve’s name on 15W.

He asked me about Steve and I told him he was and Engineer in the Army. I was telling Mini Red The Wall lists the names in order of death. When she asked me why the man answered, “If a group of men were killed around the same time it’s easier to find all their names together.” It was evident he had a group of names he had found. I treaded lightly when asking him any questions but asked him who these men were he was looking for on The Wall. He said, “They were my men. I was their platoon leader.” I couldn't help but think, "Wow!" I asked him where he was from and he said, “Missouri.” The three of us hung around for a little while and I realized he was looking for another name but at a different time frame so on a different panel. I asked if we could help him find the name. I told me he forgot a lot after leaving Vietnam including the names of his men, but over the years it has been coming back to him little by little. He was trying to find a last name of Mitchell and he knew he died in October or November of 1969. So all three of us were looking and we weren’t having any luck. He ran off to see if he could find the name listed in the books they provide. While he was gone I found a Mitchell so Mini Red and I went to find the man. He was reviewing every name in the book that was a Mitchell. We told him we found Charles I. Mitchell. He quickly located it in the book and confirmed that was him. He was remembering that he went by his middle name Irv. We walked back and showed him the name. We said our good byes and went about our quest but not after being touched by this man and his story. I never did get his name.

We walked around the Reflecting Pool to the WW II Memorial. Standing on the inside it was amazingly beautiful. Just to stop and stand there and take it all in with the sound of the water… I loved it!

We started heading towards the car but I knew there was another memorial hidden somewhere. We came upon the WWI Memorial. We walked through it, looked up into the center and took it all in before moving on.

We crossed over Independence Avenue and walked down along the Tidal Basin. We came upon the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. This was yet another memorial I hadn’t seen. It was getting dark so we definitely need to get back to the car.

Mini Red may have had to hang out in my boring office all day on her day off but hopefully this made it up to her. We had a great time and plan on doing this again real soon.