Vietnam War Memorial at night
A Veteran’s Day Reflection in Prose
by Michael Escoubas
A simple thank you seems inadequate, but thank you is all I have … that and many tears. I will always remember the Honor Flight arranged and administrated by my wife, Trudy. Our eldest son Travis came home to serve as my Guardian, ensuring that my only job that day was to enjoy visiting the memorials commemorating America’s hard-won freedoms.
My heart is full of gratitude to scores of friends who wrote gracious letters and notes received at “mail call” on the flight home–so many that they bulged the cloth container nearly to the breaking point. As if that were not enough, many of you were in the throng assembled at Springfield Capitol Airport to welcome all the veterans home. WOW! I was disoriented and completely at a loss. It was late at night; you could have been in bed or enjoying your favorite show … but you gave yourselves to others. Thank you, thank you.
Visiting the Vietnam Memorial was a highlight. The “Wall” is sculpted into the earth creating an atmosphere of reality that war happens in the crucible of life. There are 58,000 names; I wanted to find one name. “Tommy” and I were both apprentices at Pantagraph Printing, in Bloomington, IL, in 1965. He joined the Army; I joined the Navy. Tommy was killed by a sniper on the last day of his deployment. Travis helped me find his name. I lingered for a moment, touched my friend, my memory of him now etched in granite. The Honor Flight was consummated in real time.
A wise man has said, “God’s blessings are new every morning.” This came true for me on August 22, 2023.
*Honor Flights are conducted by non-profit organizations dedicated to bringing as many United States military veterans as possible to see the memorials in Washington, D.C. Veterans visit up to ten memorials in one day. Honor Flights are at no cost to the veterans. The initial Honor Flight occurred in May 2005.