We went to DC this year for the Fourth of July. My brother and sister-in-law live in Leesburg, just west of DC. My little brother and his girlfriend drove up from Tennessee, and we all decided to brave the crowds in downtown DC to see the annual fireworks. It was hectic and extremely crowded, but it was so much fun. Watching the fireworks explode over the Washington Monument was breathtaking!
My older brother, Seth, is in the Air Force, and my mom served in the Army. Though neither one of them has fought in a war, they still sacrificed for our country. Our American lives are lavish: grocery stores on every corner, shopping malls, restaurants, clean water, and air conditioning. So many people all over the world don't know where their next meal will come from. Many live in fear. Americans are quick to forget. Men have died. Sons have died. Fathers and mothers have died. Why do we wait until July 4th to remember these sacrifices?
I'd been to the Vietnam Memorial before. I was in 8th grade. I stood at the Wall and watched as one of my teachers located her brother's name. She ran her fingers across his name as she lifted a white piece of paper to the Wall. With some effort she took a pencil and slowly colored back and forth. In just seconds she began crying. She sobbed and could barely breath. Another teacher helped her move away from the wall so that yet another teacher could finish the pencil rubbing. I was only 13 at the time, but I remember wondering why she was crying so hard. It didn't make sense to me that she could be so sad after so many years. I had never experienced that kind of pain and loss. When I was standing at the Wall this July 4th running my fingers across the names, I kept thinking, "whose son are you?" It was all too clear at that moment: my son's name is etched into a memorial too. People will come across his name on the Trisomy 18 foundation site or see his headstone at the cemetery, and they'll ask, "whose son are you?" Now I understand why my teacher sobbed for her brother. It's no way to keep your loved one - only etched in stone, only a memory.
Every American should spend time remembering these sacrifices. Every mother wants their son remembered, whether he died in a battle or in a hospital.
I actually wasn't trying to be profound. I was going to say we had fun and post pics and leave it at that. Oh well. We did have fun! And here are some pics of the trip.