Heroes and Hollow Words of Praise
(April 18, 2011)
|Driving slowly around Haines Point in Washington's Potomac
Park, I see laughing children playing beneath warming skies.
Older folks jog, cycle, or walk along, getting in their
daily exercise, some accompanied by the music from their
tiny portable jukeboxes. Out on the Potomac, Georgetown's
rowing teams practice; their oars flashing in and out of the
water in unison as they scull along to their cox'n's chant.|
I roll on past ‘The Awakening', a giant man emerging
from the earth with his mouth stretched wide in a silent
yell (or scream). Some years back, a lady lost control of
her car and did some serious damage to the poor fellow's
head. This has since been repaired, and he appears none the
worse for the injury.
If I continue along this road,
I will eventually pass the Roosevelt Memorial and approach
the Lincoln Memorial, which looks down the National Mall
past the Vietnam Wall and the Korean War Memorial to the
World War II Memorial at the far end of the Reflecting Pool.
Tributes to the honored dead of three wars are gathered
I suppose that soon, there will be a fourth
memorial, one to honor those who have died, and are yet
dying, in the Middle East Gulf Wars. But now, unlike these
other revered dead, the bodies of fallen soldiers from Iraq
and Afghanistan are being smuggled home in secret as though
they had committed some shameful act. Their return can't be
photographed or televised; a curtain of secrecy has been
drawn between them and the nation.
So many of us
Vietnam veterans still complain bitterly about the reception
– or lack of a reception – we got as we straggled home from
our war. Except for family and friends, we were variously
spat at, scorned, or met with total indifference, depending
upon who's doing the telling. Yet we seem not to care about
the treatment accorded the bodies of the service people
returned from the Mid-east conflict.
The nation goes
on and on about supporting our troops and standing up for
America, but they virtually ignore this implicit insult. The
prevailing opinion is, of course, that these coffins are
hidden from public view so as not to give graphic evidence
to fuel protest against a war gradually increasing in
Whatever the reason, I think it's
indecent that our fallen sons and daughters should be
smuggled home so ignominiously, as though they are unseemly
objects that need to be hidden away and disposed of as soon
as possible. It reflects badly on America.
By Thurman P. Woodfork|
Thurman P. Woodfork (Woody) spent his
Air Force career as a radar repairman in places as disparate as
Biloxi, Mississippi; Cut Bank, Montana; Tin City, Alaska; Rosas,
Spain and Tay Ninh, Vietnam. In Vietnam, he was assigned to
Detachment 7 of the 619th Tactical Control Squadron, a Forward Air
Command Post located on Trai Trang Sup. Trang Sup was an Army
Special Forces camp situated about fifty miles northwest of Saigon
in Tay Ninh province, close to the Cambodian border.
After Vietnam, Woody remained in the Air Force for nine more years.
Thurman P. Woodfork's site for more information
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