Author: Compton, Cliff

The Wall

I’m going to Washington D.C. in April. A gift from my children, who saved their money for a year to send me there. I’d had a father daughter day one Saturday, and while sitting at a bistro in downtown Sacramento, I had mentioned that I always wanted to see the wall in D.C., that stark memorial that honored the fallen in the Vietnam war. And as I talked about it, about the way that war affected my life, my daughter was listening, and developing a plan that will culminate in my visit this April to our nation’s capital.

It’s funny, now that it’s about time to go, the thoughts that roam around the inside of my head…I’m thinking of that song, “the ballad of the green beret”, and how it was the first song I ever learned on the guitar. I’m thinking about Pete Seeger, and “where have all the flowers gone”. I’m thinking about being dressed in dress greens and going to see “Woodstock” at the post theatre at fort Lewis Washington, and watching Richie Havens sing “Freedom, and” handsome Johnny” and I’m thinking about the night when I was in the hospital pushing an I.V. pole to the restroom at about 2 o’clock in the morning at fort Lewis when I walked by the bed of a young soldier missing half a leg, both of his eyes, with withered hands and a face covered with the grey pocks of shrapnel and was confronted with a clear and cogent understanding of the ugliness of war. But what is odd to me, is that my clearest memory of that young man was that he was singing in a soft and raspy voice the song “teen angel” and it seemed so out of place in the midst of the horror of that room.
Now there are a lot of things that I’m interested in seeing. I’m hoping somebody will be protesting something. Protesters always have good music, and generally they’re interesting people. Don’t really care what they’re protesting. I’d be there for the music… and I’ve got a few words I’d like to speak to that large Lincoln sitting in that larger chair. Nothing real important, just a few things I’d like to get off my chest.

There is that Smithsonian display of early American music. Now that’s worth a trip by itself, and there are those cherry blossoms that I’m hoping will be kind enough to bloom. And maybe I’ll ride down to Arlington and see the rows and rows of white stone. Or maybe not. My father is buried in one of those in St. Louis and one of those places is enough for me.

I don’t plan to visit congress. I’ve seen enough liars in my life.

Things have changed a lot since my soldiering days. I was young and I am no longer. And I’m going to D.C. I’m not sure I’ll recognize it. This is not the same country I was raised in and that white house doesn’t always feel like my house. But that wall…That is a wall I will always be a part of. There are names there that are familiar, and memories I will not forget.

© 2014 MicrosoftTermsPrivacyDevelopersEnglish (United States)
© 2014 MicrosoftTermsPrivacyDevelopersEnglish (United States)
Posted:  3/14/2014

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