This is a draft of the introduction to “Autumn in D.C. — A Sacred Journey. The book is tentatively sheduled to be released mid November, 2010…just in time for Christmas.
The old man shuffeled slowly down the concrete path. Around him were a group of school kids who hadn’t even been born when the old man made the steps from boyhood to manhood. To the school kids, Vietnam was something they read about in their history books. It was something they heard their grandfather speak about in hushed tones with his friends – if he talked about it at all.
He raised his eyes to the top of the panel and slowly counted down the lines. When he came to the 11th line, his vision slowly scanned to the right until his gaze was fixed on the friend he had left behind. The eyes which moments before were clear became moist. A tear formed in the corner. Then another. And another.
Unashamed he felt the tears stream down his cheeks as he stood fixated at The Wall, staring at all that was left of his best friend – a name etched into black granite. He was transported in his memory back to that day in 1967 and the last time he saw his buddy.
He had been afraid to visit this spot in 1982 when The Wall was dedicated. Each year since he struggled with the desire to make this pilgrimage and the fear of making this pilgrimage. At last he made it.
And he made a measure of peace with himself. Knowing that this would probably be his last chance to visit The Wall, he silently swore at himself for waiting so long. He softly spoke to his reflection in the polished surface and asked the unseen for their forgiveness in taking a while to visit..
The book you hold is his story in pictures. But not just his story, it’s the story of so many veterans who made that sacred journey to Washington D.C. one autumn day in 2010.