Monday, February 9, 2009

Traveling

It's been a while since I posted anything here. Traveling has been keeping me busy. I began my travels on December 20 with the idea that I would visit a friend in Wyoming whom I served with in Vietnam. On the way there, I realized that I had nothing pressing that necessitated returning home. So I kept going, first to Denver and Kansas City to visit cousins then to Madison, Wisconsin to visit a young woman whom I trained as a boxer. I enjoyed visiting Kerstin and her husband Kevin and bonded with her toddler, Meriam. After that I visited two more friend with whom I served in Vietnam. My plan was to go south and visit another vet friend in Texas; however, my plan changed and as I went south I turned east through Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia and eventually to Washington, DC. What kept pulling me was the Vietnan Veterans Memorial. I had never visited the Wall. In DC, I went there once alone and then a second time with three young people. Standing a distance from the Wall I told them stories of experiences that I had in war. It was good for them to hear these stories as the stories gave more meaning to the name on the wall. I'm sure telling those stories there helped me. I'm not sure how; however, I have a feeling that as I process that experience I will learn more.

I did not remain in the saddness that the Wall represents. I stayed in DC luxuriating in art going to the National Art Gallery and the National Portrait and American Art Gallery. I spent three days there soaking in as much great art as I could. I experienced art from the late middle ages to the modernists. Vemeer and Pollack still remain some of my favorites. However, on my last day in DC I wanted to visit something especially meaningful and prayed for that gift. In the National Portrait Gallery I went to a certain gallery looking for one particular work in one photograph section. There I happened on the pictures of four individual womem--three younger women and a woman just a little older. They were pictures of women who had served in Iraq and all had post-traumatic stress disorder. I could feel the depression, anxiety that the pictures expressed. I could also relate to their feelings because I have two pictures that of myself that captured the same feelings. While I stood there in the small gallery I wanted to yell and direct people to look at those pictures. I wanted to say, "experience what these pictures say. This is important." I suppose that that is one of the goals of my life--to educate people about what war does to people.

1 comment:

Megan said...

As one of the young people who listened to your stories at the wall, I'd like to say, "Thank you." There is no equivalent to hearing a first hand account of our history. You really made the monument come alive. We came to D.C. on vacation, and received so much more than we bargained for, so thank you.
I hope the rest of your travels are as memorable!