Today is Veteran's Day, a time to remember and honor the service of all the men and women who gave their time, their hearts and, for some, their lives to protect us. Yesterday was the Marine Corps birthday, honoring 234 years of service. It's a poignant time filled with memories, pride and grief for the great web of us who have been touched directly and indirectly by the service of our veterans.
It's good that we have these times to remember the difficult and courageous service our veterans have given us. It's important to honor their service. But, it is also important to remember the high price of international conflict. While we can count the deaths involved with any conflict, it is impossible to calculate the total cost of wounded bodies and minds, broken or damaged homes, and shattered dreams. Perhaps we will never be able to eliminate war but we should know thoroughly the price we pay. We need to never forget so that we never again ask the ultimate service of our men and women without knowing that there is absolutely no other choice.
My first husband served with the Marine Corps in Vietnam so I always try to take time to remember that painful and challenging time. This summer I visited the first Vietnam memorial in Taos. Created by the family of one of the early victims of the Vietnam conflict, Angel Fire Memorial is a hauntingly beautiful and touching place. (pictured) Yesterday a new friend told me about a Memorial Sculpture Garden in Mt. Shasta, CA, created by Vietnam veteran and sculpture artist, Dennis Smith. Although I haven't visited this memorial, the web description states that "The garden was dedicated as a war memorial, but the metal sculptures evoke a powerful sense of striving for peace. Somber, haunting and spiritual, the site has a surreal beauty. Fifty-eight thousand pines, a living memorial to the 58,000 American dead in Vietnam, also grace the site. "
58,000 pines ... 58,000 lives. I thought we would never do it again.