One is my recent visit to Washington DC, during which I visited the Vietnam Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. Each of these places has left an indelible impression on me.
Another is that my father, SMSgt. Herbert C. Milligan, Jr., was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was an Air Traffic Controller at Da Nang Air Base in Vietnam from 1966 - 1967. He never spoke of Vietnam to me. But he loved the US Air Force and was proud to have served his country for 20 years. This photo is dad at Da Nang in late December 1966.
Next, is that I am reading The Good War: An Oral History of World War II by Studs Terkel. After reading only a few chapters of this book I could easily see how it won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize. The stories and history that Terkel brought to life in this work show us the realities of World War II and what it was like for those who experienced it. I have shed more than a few tears while reading this book and will likely shed more before I am through. Although Mr. Terkel had a long and full life, he will certainly be missed. Louis "Studs" Terkel passed away on October 31, 2008. (The image of the book cover is from Amazon.com)
And, yesterday I was scanning Citizen-Times.com Asheville's Home Page on line newspaper for Asheville, North Carolina and ran across an article on a World War II veteran. The article was Our Stories: Dad's silence about World War II. It tells the story of a family tracing the steps of their father, Henry D. Donatelli, through the Ardennes Forest that runs through Belgium and Germany during the War. (The photo below is an Army archive photo borrowed from the quoted article in the Citizen-Times.com)
About their trip to the Ardennes Forest, Todd Donatelli said "I can say something shifted in us as we stepped on that soil and walked through the woods where my 20-year-old father walked and fought, through the woods where a certain innocence was certainly lost. I think I have a deeper appreciation for the paradoxical man whose children were everything he lived for and who struggled desperately at times to be present to them."
Another line from the article that will remain with me always, is one in which Todd Donatelli quoted his oldest brother while they were at his father's graveside, “It is in moments like this that we realize we don't send young men and women off to war. We send whole families.”