By Peggy Weber
My recent visits to Washington, D.C. make me think that I should be hired as a member of their Chamber of Commerce. This city is amazing and the perfect place to think of our veterans.
I had not visited our nation’s capital since 1978! However, when our daughter, Elizabeth, moved to DC this summer to begin graduate studies in philosophy at Catholic University of America, our family headed down Route 95 to help her move into her apartment.
Our family has since returned to visit Elizabeth. It has not been hard to get anyone on board with making the car ride. We have been delighted with all that this amazing city has to offer.
Honestly, we have just begun to explore all that Washington has to offer. But it has been a delight just to walk the National Mall and view the monuments and visit for free some of the amazing museums that are run by the Smithsonian.
I could fill this blog with positive comments on the Air and Space Museum.
And we loved the American History Museum. It contains such dear and varying treasures as Kermit the Frog, Fonzie’s jacket and the flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired the Star Spangled Banner in 1814.
But what has stayed with me the most was our trek along the mall to see the memorials — especially one.
The Washington Monument is cool and I have since learned about how it is made from different bricks because they ran out of money while building it. I also found out that Pope Pius IX followed the example of other European monarchs in the 1850s and sent a block of marble for the Washington Monument. It is reported that a mob threw it into the Potomac.
There was a strong anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic sentiment at the time. Work halted on the monument for several years and did not continue until after the Civil War. http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/pio-nono-the-washington-monument-and-the-purloined-block-of-marble/
Moving along the National Mall, I was moved by the gorgeous Lincoln Memorial.
and touched by the VietnamWall
and the Korean Memorial.
However, for me, the most moving experience was visiting the World War II Memorial which opened in 2004.
I admit that at one point I just sat on a bench and cried. I put myself right near to the block of stone that was inscribed with the word Okinawa. And there I reflected on my Dad who served in the Pacific in Okinawa with the support troops.
I remembered how he told me that he and his fellow soldiers had to be wary of sniper fire or booby traps as they drove along the makeshift roads. And he described what it was like to look around at Sunday Mass and be reminded that some of the people who had been there the week before were no longer with them.
I asked him to write his autobiography in 1994, shortly before his death. He wrote: “While in Okinawa we had numerous attacks by planes, ships and Japanes soldiers. Eash Sunday at Mass the priest announced the following: ‘Today we pray for the following. Please remember their souls and the souls of all who died in defense of their country. As you go your way, ask yourself, is my house in order.’ I was told this in 1945. It has been the foundation of my faith for almost 50 years.”
The memories of pictures like this came back to me at the World War II Memorial.
I sat at the memorial and thought of my uncle, Ed Warner, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
I thought of my honorary Uncle Joe Hourihan who served in Europe.
I thought of my father-in-law George Weber who served in the Army Air Force in Burma.
I thought of my aunt, Mary Warner, who used her math and science skills in the war effort.
I thought of my mother who helped with the USO and did her part with rations, and letter writing and prayers.
And I thought of all the young men, most of whom are gone, who protected our world from dictators, fascists, Nazis and real evil.
Even now, I cry as I type these word because I don’t know if these people really understand what an amazing thing they did. They saved our world!!!!
Nor can I ever express well enough how grateful I am that I, my husband, and our children have been able to live in a world of freedom and prosperity because of these men and women.
I wish them and all serving in the military a very Happy Veterans’ Day!!!