Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
He strolled with his wife amidst a sea of disinterested students at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. He was going one way and they the other. I couldn’t help but stop to take it in. The picture you see was taken just after he was forced to move aside to make room for a group of touring students. I imagine he was a Korean War veteran, coming back with his wife to pay respects to those he fought with. And the students, they were there to pay similar respects. Only they didn’t know it, and I don’t guess I expected them to realize it. Still, I found myself wondering what it would have meant for the students to replicate the parting Red Sea, turning their backs to the bronze memorial statues to make an isle for the real thing to pass through. This man deserved nothing less.
Instead, our students pushed on to the end of the exhibit, shuffling past incredible sculptures and tributes to wait for the tour bus to pull up. Their minds were miles away. Far too many important matters waited to be discussed, like the quickly approaching dance that evening. Who would ask you to dance? What songs would be played? Once I finally caught up with them from my lingering in the presence of the aged man, I, too, focused on other things. Still, the memory of the old man and his wife fighting against the disengaged crowd lasted, etched in my mind like the faces on the Korean War wall. The beauty of the scene is that it’s probably a similar determination in the heart of each soldier that provides and creates this country. A place where detached teenagers can walk by absentmindedly, dreaming of the girl or boy they might ask to dance that night.