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Raw Chatter

I remember the war in Vietnam. At the time I still was attending Thomson High School with thoughts of graduating and then being drafted to fight in a war that has always been regarded merely as a conflict.

Some conflict - especially when you stop to consider that more than 56,000 American troops were killed.

As a little boy and even into my early teen years, I seriously pondered the possibility of joining the U.S. Army. By the time I became a junior, I no longer had such an aspiration. Frankly, I didn't want to die.

Every night on the family's black and white television, there was news about the war and the number of soldiers killed in Southeast Asia. I remember listening to Walter Cronkite each night, and seeing Dan Rather report from the war-torn fields and jungles of Vietnam.

Today, I regret that I didn't volunteer to join the Army and serve my country - a country I love, respect and honor just like a soldier. My son, David, did what I didn't do. He joined the U.S. Army just after graduation from Thomson High School.

This week, Vietnam resurfaced in my mind.

The reason was special: For a granite replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial passed along Interstate 20 in McDuffie County en route to Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery in Augusta. There, off Deans Bridge Road, the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be set up for public viewing from June 27 through June 29.

Watching from atop the overpass at the Thomson 172 exit on Tuesday, chill bumps covered my body. Through the lens of the camera I used to take photographs, I watched as dozens of motorcycles, led and trailed by Georgia State Patrol troopers passed underneath the overpass.

An 18-wheeler tractor-trailer, loaded with the replica and baring the names of Americans killed in Vietnam, was sandwiched between the motorcyclists.

The motorcyclists represented two different groups: the Patriot Guard Riders - a national group who honor America's heroes, and several riders from the Order of the Cross Motorcycle Ministry in Augusta.

Each of those who had a part in bringing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica to this area for public viewing deserves a big thank you, too. For many who live around these parts, it will be their only opportunity, perhaps, to ever see "The Moving Wall."

Personally, I think we should all want to see it. And when we do, we all need to remember one big thing about all of those who served during Vietnam: Some gave much; others gave all - their lives.

I salute each and everyone of the Vietnam veterans. And when I see someone wearing a cap or jacket - some sort of clothing item from that darkened era, I simply walk up to them, introduce myself and thank them for what they did for our country. Seems such a small token for what they did to keep us free as Americans.

Web posted on Thursday, June 26, 2008

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