Stephenson Family Ties The Barn Burnt Down
And Now I See The Moon

Reposting....from 2007

I had my brother, who's in the Navy, check this story out first, before I posted this next article on my blog. He has now confirmed that this is true. It really does happpen this way! May God bless our men and women in the armed services, and may we always remember where our freedoms come!

McClatchy Newspapers

Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air
Force personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is
war. Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and
facing months or years in military hospitals.

This week, I'm turning my space over to a good friend and former
roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman , who recently completed a
year long tour of duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon. Here's
Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills the
halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and
many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the
Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters
for America Website.

"It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of the Pentagon.
This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the
hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the
entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants
and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against
the walls. There are thousands here.

This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army' hallway. The G3
offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All
Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not
have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other,
cross the way and renew. Everyone shifts to ensure an open path
remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed
for this press of bodies in this area. The temperature is rising
already. Nobody cares. "10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the
E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it
is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low,
sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it
moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

"A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the
soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his
presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg,
and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that
he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.
"Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and
nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I
described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat
different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for
not having shared in the burden .. yet.

"Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the
wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I
think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's
chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.
"Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of
his peers, each private, corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a
field grade officer.

"11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt,
and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. My
hands hurt. Please! Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier
after soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three
legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this
hall came 30 solid hearts. They pass down this corridor of officers
and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the
guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some
insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can
with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique
audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician
at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and
are smiling shyly.

"There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride
pushing her 19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite
understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew
up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older
immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded
mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son's
behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the
silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his
eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have
themselves been a part of this parade in the past. These are our men,
broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome
them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year
long, for more than four years.


Chelsea said...

Wow, that would be a sight to see and hear. Thanx for sharing that Cindy.

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