We loaded up this morning to drive down to Gainesville, Texas to attend the yearly book signings of the Medal of Honor recipients. We found out also that the traveling memorial was also in Gainesville this weekend. We decided to stop at the monument first. It was at the local high school and they really needed the room. This is not just a memorial for the fallen Vietnam veterans, this has information and dedications from all of the wars that the US military men and woman have been involved in since the country began. There was information spread out over a couple hundred yards of ground. I got pretty overwhelmed rather quickly being surrounded by the names and souls of so many warriors.
We went first to the war on terror panels and names.. there were so many names that I honestly felt pretty bad that I could not just sit there and read them all. I found Micheal’s name, and then looked for a few others who’s fathers or mothers I’ve had contact with over the years. I started reading names and dates and just had to stop after seeing the rows of names and the dates. There were 11 names on one day and I just couldn’t read the names anymore.. I had to take a stroll around the rest of the things there. By this time the place started to fill up rather rapidly. Lots of the motorcycle groups from around the area had motored in and started to view the names.
I had something happen that I didn’t mean to happen and feel pretty bad about it actually. As I approached the panel where Micheal is listed and where my wife and youngest son were standing, a group from one of the motorcycle groups came up and asked of him;”Does he understand what the names here mean”? I (without really thinking about it) replied ” He should, his brother is on this panel right there”. I guess I could have handled that better had I thought about it.. I just kind of blurted it out without thinking. He thankfully didn’t seem to think I was a complete jerk and we shook hands and went our separate ways. I couldn’t talk to him as I was for some reason fighting the emotions I was feeling since I got there had reached my level of containment. I meant to go find him and apologize. but I couldn’t find him again. I hope he understands.
We went from the memorial to the hall where the book signings and meet and greet for the MOH recipients were, this is our third year going there so we knew where to go and what the process was. Most of the gentlemen who were there had been there the previous years we went and visited a bit with them and I noticed that at one of the tables there signing books was no other than Joe Galloway. For those who don’t know, he was the man who survived the now famous battle in the La Drang Valley with Col Hal Moore and the 7th Cav. He co-wrote “We were soldiers once.. and young”. For his actions aiding and rescuing soldiers that day, he is the only civilian who was ever awarded the bronze star for his actions in Vietnam.
He talked a long while with several old veterans who were in line before me. One of them was an on 7th Cav trooper. I got my turn, I thanked him for being there and for all that he has done spreading the word of the bravery of the United States military. I asked him to sign his book and while doing so, my youngest came up to the table. Mr Galloway stopped what he was doing and gave my son a very important lesson about the world and learning and remembering history so we never repeat it. I felt really good that he took the time to personally address a kid.. I have a picture with Mr Galloway (thanks Angelia) and my son. I was an emotionally drained, windblown worn out Dad when I got home..