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We Remember


Vietnam War Memorial, designed by 21-year old Maya Lin.

It was just after 2:00 am in the darkened bunker in Dong Ha, Vietnam, where the Direct Air Support Center was stationed. A whispered call came over the radio from a small seven-man Marine recon team near the Laotian border. Tasked with monitoring activity on the Ho Chi Minh trail, they had been discovered and were now under attack by a North Vietnamese Army regiment. Outnumbered 100:1, they desperately needed help. The leader was whispering because the enemy was so dangerously close. Over the next 20 minutes, as I listened in horror, unable to provide help, they died one by one.


All of the military veterans in my Rotary club share similar stories. Of brave comrades who paid the ultimate price. Who we each remember as our own "Band of Brothers."

From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember’d; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers

Originally established to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the Civil War, Memorial Day has evolved into a national observance for all Americans to reflect on those who gave their lives defending our nation's values and freedoms. It's not about veterans but about those, like that recon team, who didn't make it home.


In Washington D.C. and in small towns we raise monuments to memorialize the names of those brave warriors. The Vietnam Memorial was designed by undergraduate Yale architectural student Maya Lin. The 57,939 names are inscribed and ordered chronologically to tell the journey of the war. The top of the monument remains flush while the path descends to the deepest part, when the most perished. And then it gradually ascends towards the Washington Monument. Seeing myself reflected in the polished black grantite while reading the names, I was moved to tears by the sheer elegance and simplicity and overall sense of loss and waste.


For all who served, Memorial Day is a poignant reminder of the true cost of freedom. It's a time when past experiences and memories surface, expressing a universal truth: those who have experienced the horrors of war first-hand never wish to repeat it. This is why we feel such a sense of betrayal when political leaders show neither courage nor honor, and their only commitment seems to be a craven grasp for more power.


This special day underscores the importance of peace and the need for continued efforts toward understanding and reconciliation both at home and globally. For veterans, it is a solemn reminder of loss but also a day to reinforce our sense of purpose and belonging within our American narrative about the importance of protecting the universal values of our great nation.

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Guest
May 24
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you Ray. The message just went out to my entire Rotary Club.

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Guest
May 24
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Eloquent Ray. Thanks for your service!

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Guest
May 24

Thank you Ray. What a memorable story.

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Guest
May 24

Another excellent piece, Ray.

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Guest
May 24
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks Ray, you make it personal for us all.

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