I love the 4th of July. It is a solid tie between this and Christmas. Mostly I love the celebration of the great experiment that is the United States of America. We spent some time with great friends and I love being in the middle of Riverfront and people watching. There are some awesome people in Salem. I ran into a bunch of students this year. It was a new experience, but some of them wanted to recite the preamble for me and I loved it. One of the kiddos told me that she was more aware of the sacrifices we honor on this day because of a veteran we met at the Vietnam wall.
This man stood by the wall and told us about his tour. He served on a boat that went up and down the river to supply troops. He described how in three months he lost his entire crew to guerrilla snipers, and how after that he decided not to make friends anymore. His story was powerful and moving and more than I could have taught in months worth of lessons. He stood in front of my kids and cried for his lost buddies. They cried for his lost buddies. He then told them that he would go back and do it again if it meant that none of them would have to go to war. Finally he explained that he had PTSD and how thousands of Vietnam Vets still suffer from PTSD and aren't being treated. My students shook his hand and thanked him for what he had done for them.
Today, one young girl was thinking of him while riding rides and eating goodies. She remembered that her ability to enjoy those things was thanks in part to a man who is still crying 40 years after he came home. The best thing I heard today was "I just wish I could thank him again."