Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Trip to Washington, Walter Reed and serenity

I attended the 2007 Milblog conference early this month. You've all read about it by now, very impressive experience, all in all. I got to play with the big kids, those bloggers who actually post new, important and interesting stuff every day, instead of me, who can usually never figure out something to say.

Anyway, DC is still about the same, still full of traffic and bureaucrats. Hasn't changed at all since I lived there. But I got my picture taken with Abe for about the 4th time, beginning when I was in High School. He hasn't changed in all those years, and neither have I, honest.
I also got a chance to visit Walter Reed for the first time in 34 years. That's where I was stationed during the Vietnam War, and it was quite an experience to go back. Soldier's Angels hosted a BBQ for the patients at Mologne house, and I got to meet several of them. I've never talked to a more inspiring group of people in my life. I like to think that some of them were treated at CSH's that I've helped to send supplies to. Made me feel good.
DJ and I walked around, introduced ourselves and passed out cigars, which were a big hit. One group of guys were a Dad and three friends? brothers? who were visiting a young patient in a wheelchair. They all gratefully accepted a stogie, and we got to chatting. Found out the young guys were all Marine Corps officers, just graduated and damned impressive to talk with. I still felt compelled to mess with them, just a little, being from a strictly Army family myself. But we had fun.
The cigars were a donation from Uncle Mikey, at www.mrbundles.com in Richmond, VA. Mike is a hell of a guy, Vietnam Vet and retired Army officer. We spoke by phone before my trip and he helped me put some stuff in perspective about my own military experience. I really wasn't sure I'd measure up to visiting those wounded heroes, not sure I'd know what to say to them.
I also realized that I'd been carrying around a heavy load of stuff for 30 years. I went direct from Basic to Walter Reed to be a computer programmer. No idea that I'd walk into a hospital full of amputees and burn patients who came straight from Vietnam while I was moaning about basic training and my life in general. Ever since, I always felt guilty about what little I did, while they gave so much. And that I had no way to help them while I was stationed at the hospital.
Mike helped me realize that my contribution did matter. Everybody's does. Seems simple now, but hell, what a load off my shoulders. And that's the moral to today's story - no matter how small your contribution seems, it does make a difference. Now get out there and do it.


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