The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Monday, May 28, 2007

The perfect day for our paths to cross

When I was a child, I joined my grandparents on my first ever trip to Washington D.C. Somewhere near the Vietnam War Memorial, I purchased one of those silver bracelets of a Marine Missing in Action. As a kid, I didn't think of the commercialism or touristy nature of those bracelets. I merely thought of the guy whose name was on it. I wore that bracelet for a while when I was younger and often wondered how my Marine went missing and if he had ever been found. This was in the pre-internet age, so I would not have even known what steps to take to figure that out. Instead, I just kept him in my thoughts and prayers until the day that I put that bracelet in a box somewhere and forgot about it and about him.

Two days ago, when the cable man was here, he needed a phone to test out our new phone line and I recalled having an old cordless in a box in my closet. As I dug through the box, I came upon my MIA bracelet. I took it out and put it on my desk to think about later. After a long day of errands and studying, as the sun was setting through my window it reflected off the bracelet and caught my eye. After almost twenty years, I put the bracelet back on. I reflected on my Marine; only this time, I took it a step further. I googled his name and found his story.

My Marine's plane went down in 1969 on my father's birthday (I recall choosing this particular bracelet solely for the date.) He was never heard from again, however, he was not lost forever. In 1999, they found parts of his plane and some remains of (presumably) him and his co-pilot in Laos. After careful excavation, they brought my Marine home. They laid him to rest right down the street from me in Arlington Cemetery.

As I looked down at the bracelet on my arm, I thought of the fact that I have lived here for almost six years and have not visited the cemetery. I thought of the fact that my Marine was from Washington state so his family is likely still far away. I thought that I should really find some time in my oh-so-busy life to go pay my respects to my Marine. As I pulled out my study schedule, I noticed I would have no class on Monday. It took a moment to dawn on me that Monday would be Memorial Day. I sat breathless for a moment. Memorial Day.

There could be no more fitting a day to meet my Marine.

Today I put my books aside, put my bracelet back on, and went to meet LTC Luther A. Lono. After picking up some flowers and a good friend, we headed to Arlington Cemetery. When I arrived at his gravesite, I felt as if I knew him personally. As I placed the bouquet of red, white and blue flowers at his headstone, I thanked him for serving this great country, for dying for my freedom, and for helping at least one American to truly understand what Memorial Day is about.

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