WASHINGTON, D.C. — Memorials are not meant to educate, but to inspire emotions. For the men and women who participated in the third annual Western New York Warriors Flight, that range of emotion was on full display.
Chuck Learn, visited the Korean War Memorial for the first time on Friday. To him, it was a teleportation of sorts to his days on the battlefield.
But for others, like Vietnam War Veteran Chris Chabriel, confronting the Vietnam War Memorial was cathartic.
“I wanted to experience more than just the Vietnam Wall. I’m a veteran. I'm not a veteran of Vietnam,” said Chabriel. “I’m a veteran of the United States and all of the wars that we were involved with.”
And even others took some time to laugh and smile throughout the ceremonies and memorials.
Take “Murdock” Smith, for example — a Vietnam veteran himself, who fondly remembered his own time in service as he watched Friday afternoon’s Changing of the Guard Ceremony from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“I was watching when he looked at the back side, and he kind of looked down, and then kind of looked at him like, ‘Hey you got a little dirt there,’” Smith laughed. “I thought he was going to say something, but he did not.”
But even as he smiled with a boyish joy, Smith was also touched very deeply by the elegant display.
“It really touched my soul,” Smith said emotionally.