Monday, June 2, 2014

A trip to the Green Festival turned red, white, and blue

The WWII Memorial in Washington, DC

This past weekend, I drove down to Washington, DC with my daughter, Bethany, and grandson, Lincoln. We stayed in a hotel in Arlington and took the Metro and/or walked everywhere we went (oh, well, with the exception of a short shuttle via bicycle when we just couldn't walk another step). I cannot imagine how many MILES we walked. I certainly lost count of the blocks by the end of the evening on Friday. At least the weather couldn't have been better.

Our purpose in going was to attend the Green Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (which is a really long walk from the Lincoln Memorial, by the way), but since Bethany had never been to DC before, we wanted to get in some touristy stuff as well. I just didn't expect to be as moved as I was while doing so.

We happened to arrive at the WWII Memorial in time to see busloads of WWII veterans from Florida. I noticed one in a wheelchair and approached him to shake his hand and thank him for his service. This is something I do on a regular basis anyway, but it was particularly moving to do so at the Memorial itself. By the time I'd thanked the third or fourth veteran, I realized I was surrounded by them. 

Lincoln saying "Thank you" to a war hero.

Everywhere I looked, dotted among the tourists, were war heroes. It was a humbling and emotional moment for me. Most of the men, and two women, were being pushed in wheelchairs by volunteers (called Guardian Escorts) of the Honor Flight Network. Many of these kind and respectful volunteers were veterans as well. I had the privilege of speaking with the President of the Space Coast Honor Flight organization. Bill Welser was gracious and humble. He is also a retired 3 Star General of the Air Force. I had no idea, until one of the Guardian Escorts filled me in. Here he was, accompanying these war heroes on a bus trip to Washington DC. His kind and gentle spirit revealed the true nature of his leadership. I was honored to meet this man.

Bethany's in the royal blue top

My daughter took my grandson up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial while I waited on the hill above the Reflecting Pond with the stroller. As I stood there watching the veterans being wheeled around the area, I couldn't hold back my emotions. I wept as I waited, overwhelmed by the presence of such brave heroes, and knowing that in another decade, scenes like this will be gone. 


Gazing at the flag flapping in the distance, I repented of my anti-America sentiments of late. 

Sure, I'm not happy with many things going on in this country, but let me tell you, when you're in the midst of men who risked their lives for what we have today, men and women who sacrificed so much, you cannot help but be thankful for what the flag represents and the freedoms we still have in the United States. 

My trip to DC was supposed to teach me more about green living. Instead it taught me more about respect. And dignity. And honor.

All I can say now is "thank you."

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