In Athens, it’s easy to get caught up in our bubble. We go throughout our days trying to keep up with classes; we tend to forget those who are fighting every day so that we have these opportunities — something to work and study for. We have one day set aside to remember and reflect those who have fallen in our nation’s extensive war history. So when a chance came to spend the day in our nation’s capital, it was impossible for each of us seven OU sophomores to say “no.”
We spent Saturday walking around D.C., visiting the many war memorials while dodging the runners and eighth grade class trips whose tour guides were pleading with them to understand the significance of the polished marble and the engraved names.
Gently placed wreaths and American flags encircling loved ones’ names on the memorials didn’t let us forget the importance of their service. At the memorials, families left notes and flowers. They left war uniforms and tears.
The only service we came across was one at the Vietnam War Memorial. A temporary stage was constructed in a patch of grass across from the wall. The cold night forced families to huddle together as each of the names of soldiers who died during the Vietnam War were read alphabetically. A light illuminated the long line of volunteers and the many names they were about to honor before taking the stage.
As the names were read off, other families and friends of the fallen soldiers used small flashlights to try and spot their names on the memorial.
Monday wasn’t a day to sleep in and get caught up on last-minute homework assignments and projects. Although we get caught up in the Athens scene quickly, we need to take a step back and remember those who have fallen fighting for us. Remember those who continue to fight for us today. Remember the families who don’t just think about our veterans on a few holidays, but every day.
Engraved at the Korean War Veterans Memorial are the words, “Freedom isn’t free.” Sure, Bobcats always stick together, but our nation needs to stick together, too.
Brandon Carte and Sara Jerde are staff writer and assistant campus editor, respectively, for The Post. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.