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Friday, November 04, 2005

Veterans Day

A U.S. Naval officer was the first. In 1982, while the concrete for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was being poured, the officer walked up, threw in his brother's Purple Heart medal, and saluted. Since then more than 53,000 other objects have been offered in remembrance.

One woman left her wedding ring. She was getting remarried the next day, and wanted to finally close the relationship with her husband who had died in Vietnam. Others have left sonograms, teddy bears, dogtags, POW/MIA bracelets, cards, letters and photographs. All are carefully bagged and transferred to the National Park Service's Museum Resource Center in Lanham, MD.

Some people use art to pay their respects. On November 9, 1984, Frederick Hart's sculpture was added to the Memorial. The statue of three soldiers faces The Wall, conceived by artist Maya Ying Lin, that names more than 58,000 Americans killed or missing in Vietnam. Others honor those who serve our country by writing about the military experience. Check out:

Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien. Winner of the National Book Award, this novel alternates between a platoon's dreamy fantasies and the harsh reality of their lives. O'Brien's beautifully-written The Things They Carried -- which captures the emotions of the Vietnam "jungle rat" -- may become a classic.

Courage Under Fire by Patrick Sheane Duncan. A female helicopter pilot is nominated posthumously for the Medal of Honor for her actions during Desert Storm fighting in Iraq. Lieutenant Colonel Nat Sterling is detailed to conduct an inquiry into her act of valor -- and redeem himself from fratricide.

Operation: Homefront by Caroline B. Cooney. When Laura Herricks' mother is mobilized with her National Guard unit to Saudi Arabia, the family learns to take care of themselves both physically and emotionally as they live the war through television.

Sharkman Six by Owen West. Trained warriors on a peace-keeping mission in Mogadishu must adhere to the rules of engagement, which prevent them from saving the lives of noncombatants. The conflict escalates when their enemies use those rules -- and the media -- to their own advantage.

God's Children by Harold Coyle. Inexperienced infantrymen and their leaders are thrown into unexpected combat encounters during a three-day operation that began as a routine patrol. A realistic look at "peacekeeping" in the Balkans.

We Were Soldiers Once, And Young by Harold Moore, Joseph Galloway. This story about Vietnam's Ia Drang battle includes a cover photo of infantry platoon leader Tommy Rescorla, and a description of his actions in the war. Footnote to history: on September 11, 2001, Rescorla safely evacuated all his Morgan Stanley colleagues out of the World Trade Center. The veteran was last seen headed back into the south Tower to check for stragglers.

Find other books in the library’s online catalog.

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