Washington Evening Journal

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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 17, 2017

They saved the nation

By Linda Wenger | Oct 04, 2012

When I was 10 years old, my grandparents planned to take me to Washington, D.C., for a week to see our nation’s capitol. The night before we were to leave, my great-grandmother fell and broke her hip and the trip was canceled. I’ve wanted to go to Washington, D.C., ever since.

When I learned about the Honor Flight, I knew it was a trip I wanted to make. I’ve interviewed many World War II veterans and I have deep respect for what they gave and gave up to fight that war. Fortunately, I did go along with the World War II veterans and many Korean War veterans, too. It’s a day I will never forget.

I’ve never talked to a veteran of either war who have thought what they did during wartime was special or unique. All of them have been humble about their service to our country. One of my veteran friends always said that the best of them were buried on foreign soil.

I’m a secondhand witness to the sacrifices they made. My male relatives were too young or too old to serve in World War II and my dad’s selective service classification was 4F. He was married and had a child (me) at the time of the Korean War. Most of my knowledge about the wars I’ve learned through books, movies and mini series. I’ve augmented that knowledge by talking to some of the Americans here in Washington County and Louisa County and writing about them.

I’ve not been able to write some things I was told because many veterans asked me not to repeat some of the details. I can no longer betray one of them who told met just two years ago he often felt like he shouldn’t be allowed to sit in church because he knew how many enemy soldiers he had killed. That comment just blows me away every time I think of it.

I have since learned that some veterans still experience flashbacks and nightmares after all these years. I recently learned about a World War II paratrooper who would stand on his bed ready to jump out of the airplane until the end of his lifetime. It was also a time when men were the strong-silent type and bore their war experiences alone.

What really became clear to me after the Honor Flight was that the veterans I know as acquaintances, neighbors and friends truly are the Americans who saved our nation and the world. Too often I’ve taken these veterans for granted because everyday encounters made them every day people to me.

Standing in awe at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall has deepened my gratitude for the nation and world we have today. In spite of the political climate in our country today, I am reminded that our veterans fought for and sacrificed much for the freedom we enjoy today. They have also and still are fighting for the freedom of others in the world.

When we arrived in Washington, D.C., it was raining. The rain changed the schedule some and it stormed during the afternoon. The rain was nothing compared to what the veterans went through. The war went on in all kinds of weather, often causing more hardship than the battles alone.

I owe so many so much. We all owe so many so much.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Oct 12, 2012 14:49

Security Officer on State Department Blocking Requests: ‘For Me the Taliban Is Inside the


Biden added: “We did not know they wanted more security” in Benghazi.


In a heated and dramatic congressional hearing today, witnesses who served with the U.S. diplomatic corps in Libya and pushed for a stronger security presence repeatedly faulted the State Department for standing in their way – one even referring to the State Department officials he described as obstructionist as if they were Taliban terrorists.

The former regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, recalled talking to a regional director and asking for twelve security agents.

“His response to that was, ‘You are asking for the sun, moon and the stars.’ And my response to him – his name was Jim – ‘Jim, you know what makes most frustrating about this assignment? It is not the hardships, it is not the gunfire, it is not the threats. It is dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me. And I added (sic) it by saying, ‘For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building.’”

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, the commander of a Security Support Team (SST) sent home in August – against his wishes and, he says, the wishes of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens – said “we were fighting a losing battle. We couldn’t even keep what we had.”

Nordstrom agreed, saying, “it was abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident. And the question that we would ask is again, ‘How thin does the ice need to get until someone falls through?’”

As an example, earlier Nordstrom had said he was “specifically told, ‘You can’t request an SST extension. How I interpreted that was there was going to be too much political cost.”

But in another emotional moment, undersecretary of state for management Patrick Kennedy denied that politics played any role.

“I have been a career foreign service officer for 39 years,” Kennedy said when asked if political considerations trumped protocol. “I have served every president since Richard Nixon, I have directly served six secretaries of State, Democratic and Republican. On my honor: no. None.”

Wood said that when he heard of the attack on the Benghazi post on September 11, it was “instantly recognizable” that it had been a terrorist attack.


“Mainly because of my prior knowledge there,” Wood said. “I almost expected the attack to come. We were the last flag flying. It was a matter of time.”

-Jake Tapper and Mary Bruce

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Oct 11, 2012 01:59
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