War Memorials – more than a tourist attraction
One of my favorite places to visit is Washington D.C. There are many things to see and learn there and it is an easy city to get around in. I recently had the privilege of being there again and made it a point to stop at several of the war memorials. Standing in the midst of the columns of the World War II memorial, I contemplate the things I have learned about that conflict. My grandfather fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was severely wounded, he made it home while his entire platoon perished. I watched the IMAX documentary about D Day and was, as always, awed by the sacrifices made by so many, not just from the U.S.
In my latest novel, the characters travel to our nation’s capital and visit the war memorials. I am moved by the “Wall.”
The Vietnam War memorial. While I did not know any of the men or women whose names are engraved on that surface, I am from their generation. I received a draft “lottery” number (number 4). Had that war continued I might have been involved personally. It is easy to see the emotions of those who have lost loved ones, as they run their fingers across the names. The Korean War memorial, however, moves me more than all the others. Its design is so compelling that one feels as if they are walking with the war-scarred men in the unit portrayed. Seven-foot tall statues of life-like soldiers are walking on patrol. In the faces of the statues can be seen the stress of war and the distress of fighting. This is complemented and multiplied by the polished granite wall bearing the engraved actual faces of many service men and women who we involved in the Korean War.
Most of us know little about the Korean War. There were few movies and books written. It was a more obscure conflict, yet it affects us today. We still keep a strong military presence in South Korea, “just in case.” We do not trust the leader of North Korea and fear that war could be sparked with little provocation. At the outset of the war our soldiers had been away from war just long enough to have lost much of the experience from World War II. They landed in Korea over confident and unprepared for the harshness of the terrain and climate. The battles were bloody and losses were staggering. At best the war ended in a stalemate that goes on today.
Witness in the Window is a fiction novel whose main character, Dr. Jack Sharp, is faced with danger as he and his family
are threatened by an old enemy. Wayne Jackson is a Korean War veteran who lives with his daughter, Teresa. One night he is sitting in his wheel chair, staring out the back window of their house. In the darkness he sees a jogger moving along the bike path. The figure is attacked by another person, but it is too dark to make out any features. Suddenly two security lights come on illuminating the scene. The woman jogger, who was attacked, yanks off his mask. The man runs away, but not before Wayne sees his face clearly. Nevertheless, Wayne cannot tell anyone about it. For some reason he has not spoken in 3 years.
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