V for Veteran

Remember, remember, the eleventh of November, our brave men and women who fought. I see no reason in this autumnal season why these heroes should e’er be forgot.

by Scott Daniel // November 11, 2010

There is a daily tradition observed on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, at a sunken angular gabbro wall whose point wedges awkwardly betwixt Henry Bacon Drive and Constitution Avenue. Etched upon that wall are the names of 58,175 men and women who perished in the jungles and the villages and the beaches of Southeast Asia. The keepers of the tradition seek the names of beloved and of strangers and, with pencil and the frailest of parchments, rub their names into tokens of remembrance. I never made such a rubbing, but I did once chance upon the occasion to seal one name forever in a photograph.

Marcus Asplund. My great-uncle, my grandfather’s brother, who died in 1968, fourteen years before I even entered the thought of another. I have no real memories of Marcus. I suppose the borrowed collective reminiscence of my kindred must do.

I don’t possess the imagination to envision what Marcus and countless others have endured to defend our freedoms. This truth is no cliché. Our country twice came perilously close in the last century to its outright subjugation or destruction – during World War II and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Our veterans do not celebrate or derive pleasure from the use of force and the instruments of war. Humans, unfortunately, are often want for goodness, and thus our freedoms float in an ark on a dangerous sea. We who love freedom require assistance.

It may be true that the pen is mightier than the sword, as the saying goes. But my pen cannot write without it. We should all be thankful to our veterans. To our heroes.

Today I pay tribute to those I know personally who serve or have served our country in peacetime and war, at home and abroad. I only ask the forgiveness of any of you whom I may have forgotten:

  • Joshua Byers (K.I.A on July 23, 2003, outside Ramadi, Iraq)
  • Clarence “Jack” Daniel
  • James Anderson
  • John Vialpando
  • John Wrightman
  • Daniel Wrightman
  • Brian Murdock
  • Sean Freeman
  • Alex Kwon
  • Mariano Corcilli
  • Matthew Henderson
  • Salua Baida
  • Chris Czaplak
  • Stephen Wiley
  • Megan Romigh
  • Teofilo Espinal
  • Ramin Chowdry
  • Sam Macaluso
  • Patrick Yee
  • Brad Platt

We are all in awe of and honored by your service.

Photo credits: Soldier Support Project Inc.; Boots Stores by Charles Baker

  1. #1 by Angela on November 11, 2010 - 4:28 pm

    Beautifully written. I especially like this sentence: “Our veterans do not celebrate or derive pleasure from the use of force and the instruments of war.” That’s so true, at least of the veterans I know, or knew. I have one to add:
    John “Jack” B. Gray, 1925-2009: WWII and the Korean War.

  2. #2 by Oma Carlisi on November 11, 2010 - 7:01 pm

    Just a little history that you may not be aware of, Scott. Your grandfather Clarence “Jack” Daniel served in the USAF from approximately 1954 until shortly before your father was born in 1962. He served in Germany from 1957 until December, 1960. I was there with him from 1959 until our return in 1960. He was a dedicated airman who took pride in his country. I don’t know if you were ever told this, but now that he is gone I want to be sure that you know a little bit about him. Also, my father, James Anderson, your maternal great-grandfather, served in the Philippines during the second world war.

  3. #3 by Scott Daniel on November 11, 2010 - 7:26 pm

    @Angela: I appreciate your appreciation, as well as your grandfather’s service.

    @Oma: Duly noted and updated. See new list reflected above.

  4. #4 by Oma Carlisi on November 11, 2010 - 9:41 pm

    I goofed! My father is your paternal great-father on your grandmother’s side, I guess you would say. I got to thinking. If he were your maternal greatgrandfather, he would be on your grandmother’s side, I believe.

  5. #5 by Angela on November 11, 2010 - 10:17 pm

    Beautiful post, Scott. Thanks for your tribute to the men and women who serve and protect.

  6. #6 by Mike on November 13, 2010 - 9:14 am

    I totally agree with your sentiments!!! We owe our veterans the pens in our hands, and all the freedoms we enjoy daily without thought.

  7. #7 by Eileen on November 20, 2010 - 5:19 pm

    Marcus was also memorialized in my grandparents’ dining room in Phoenix for as long as they both lived. I spent what seemed endless summer weeks in their home as a child. Every morning, every mid-day and every evening we met at that dining table and I would stare at the photo of young Marcus on the wall with his medals, and the folded flag from his coffin, and I would wonder why he could have disappeared. I never met Marcus Asplund. He was my father’s brother, the youngest of six children. He died when he was 23 years old.

    It is good to remember people whether you knew them or not. Beautiful writing, Scott.

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