The day begins with an early morning arrival. 3 1/2 hours of sleep the night before. Conversations and snapshots of the day running through my mind, preventing sleep from coming. Day 2 begins greeting those who have come to visit lost comrades. Speaking with so many veterans, at times simply listening or standing together. No words needed. Bus after bus of high school students from Erie County arrive. Walking them down the wall. Explaining WHY there is a Wall. Listening to students who express their desire to enter the military. Quick flashbacks of myself, of when I was that age. A teenager, wanting to be a part of something so much bigger than myself, not completely grasping it, but knowing it nonetheless. A short lull after the students leave. Gathering our bearings for whomever we may meet next. Rains come. Short lived. Evening descends and the Diamond fills once again for the annual Vigil. Candles are lit in remembrance. Over 100 candles casting reflections upon the wall with a cool breeze gently moving the American flag. A quiet comes upon us as the night lengthens.
Standing at the apex of The Wall with my brothers. Watching the candle lights flicker within The Wall. Shedding pin pricks of light on those dark panels. Illuminating 58,318 names. I stand. Looking into the wall. Heart so filled. With blessings, stories, heartache and a bit of weariness. I realize that 15 hours have gone by. I take my leave to head home and sit quietly, listening to the peepers through the open window. A gentle sound. Preparing my heart for another full day coming soon, with the Ride For Freedom. Another chance to be among so many who care. Brothers and sisters. Anticipating the day long rumble of motorcycles arriving as the emotions and blessings will no doubt, come rushing in yet again. God bless America.