My family visited Washington, DC last weekend and, like every other time I have been there, I left feeling inspired and grateful to be a citizen of our great country. Of course, this time I also left feeling utterly exhausted and vowing never to travel with my little monsters girls again. But, that is another story…
Returning to my original train of thought, there is something magical about Washington, DC. Maybe it is the history that surrounds you, envelops you really, wherever you go. Perhaps it is the grandiose structures and larger than life monuments. It may just be that it is the centerpiece of our nation – things happen there. Deals get made for better or for worse. Change is inspired there. As I looked out on the Reflecting Pool from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, with a view of the towering Washington Monument, I could hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaiming “I have a dream…” Being in our nation’s capital empowers me and energizes my civic mind.
It also takes my breath away. It makes my heart ache and then swell with pride. Each time I visit the war memorials, I am overwhelmed. Allow me to tell you about the number 500,193. There are three memorials that form a triangle in the area of the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. These memorials were erected in honor of veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. Each is moving on its own, but collectively they are awe-inspiring. The number I referenced above is the total number of military personnel who died during these wars. Half a million Americans gave their lives in service of their country. Over 1 million were wounded and upwards of 30 million served in the military during these wars alone. Serving in the armed forces is the ultimate form of service to the country – the willingness to risk one’s life in defense of our nation is both brave and honorable. And each time I visit these monuments, I am reminded of how many brave individuals have served since the birth of our country and how many have died in defense of it. Each time I think of my little brother, who currently serves in the Army, I am so proud of him and so very grateful that he returned from Afghanistan alive and well.
The flags flying at the Vietnam War Memorial
Names of Vietnam veterans at Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Korean War Memorial (Photo credit: inge87)
World War II Memorial (Photo credit: rob the tog)
It is so important to continue to recognize and thank members of the United States Armed Forces for their service, both while actively serving and as veterans. This month, I talked to Josie about her Chores For Charity beneficiary and asked her if she’d like to raise money to send care packages to soldiers like her Uncle M. Her understated response was, “Sure.” And so, for the month of April, Josie will donate her allowance and probably some of her beanie babies to Operation Gratitude!
Operation Gratitude has so many ways that you can help fulfill their mission of lifting morale “in the Military Community by sending care packages addressed to individual Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed overseas, to their children left behind, and to Veterans, First Responders, Wounded Warriors and their Care Givers.” Please visit their site and learn about how you can help this fantastic organization! You can also follow their blog to get updates on their cause.
And for those of you looking for a gratuitous shot of the girls, here is one of them showing their patriotism!