The Great War, described at the time as the “War to End all Wars,” ended at 11:00 AM on November 11, 1918. The day first became known as Armistice Day and then Veterans Day and is now an occasion to honor those who died or were wounded in all wars.
And so last evening, it seemed fitting to revisit the recently unveiled American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial near Bartholdi Park in Washington, DC. As I was framing an image across the main pool, I noticed a man and his companion moving into my frame and I waited a few seconds until they were centered and then pressed the shutter.
I felt I needed to know a little more about his story and I went over to see him. His name is Dennis and we spoke for a few minutes. In January, 1967 Dennis was a young draftee sent to Vietnam. He arrived at the main replacement center in Long Binh and was assigned to the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division based in Cu Chi. His unit was the “Wolfhounds” battalion. In June, he was wounded in combat and his tour was over. As we spoke, several strangers came over, shook his hand, and thanked him.
Dennis told me he would be over at “The Wall” today with a bunch of his friends, also wounded veterans, where they will be smoking cigars and “telling Lies.” As I walked away, thinking about our conversation, I marveled at his quiet strength and positive outlook.