It was a grey rainy Friday February morning in Washington DC.  We were beginning our 6-hour journey back to Tennessee from the National Prayer Breakfast.  We had a great time connecting with our friends from all over the US and around the world.  We had invited two of our close friends and neighbors Allen and Terri Musil to join us at the breakfast. One of the things we like most about the drive to Washington DC is the chance to get to know each other while we travel together in the car.

During our ride to Washington and back, we laugh, we talk politics, we eat, we laugh some more and we learn about each other’s family.  We start with our immediate families and then move all the way back to when we grew up.  This year was a little different and we learned about Allen’s father Clinton A. Musil Sr. As Allen told of his youth he told us about his father who had been listed as a POW for most of his childhood.  I had never known anyone who had a POW as one of his or her family members. Allen began to tell us the story of his father and his service to our country during the Vietnam War.  Allen’s father was a POW in Vietnam being captured after his plane crashed in the jungle.  Not knowing his outcome after the crash and the hope of his dad still being alive was a very tough way to grow up.  Clinton either died while being held hostage or died from the injuries he sustained in the plane crash.  The outcome of many soldiers like Clinton was unknown because the limited and unreliable news from Vietnam during the war years.  Allen was in high school when his father’s remains were found.  Clinton Allen Musil Jr. (Allen) is named after his father.

As we were leaving Washington DC we went to the Vietnam Memorial to find Allen’s father Clinton inscribed on the wall with thousands of other brave men.  I took a picture of his name with my phone as we stood there on that rainy morning.  When I looked at my pictures from the week I saw the reflection of a son in the black marble remembering his dad.  This was a special moment to stand looking down that wall at thousands of names of those men who sacrificed for freedom.  The names of fathers, sons and brothers lined those black slabs.  This war is becoming a fading memory, which needs to be remembered in honor of those who fought for our freedom.

I remember those days of the late 60’s well.  Almost all of the young men in my neighborhood went to war.  Some returned and some did not.  My brother Allan had to either join or be drafted as was the case with most 18 year olds who did not go to college and maintain good enough grades to avoid the draft.  He chose the Air Force and served 5 years half way around the world in a country most of us had never heard of until 1960.  If you were drafted you went to the Army or became a Marine where many lost their lives.  I did not have to serve because of a serious knee injury while playing sports.  I was also fortunate to get to go to college, which also gave me a student deferment from the draft.  The Vietnam War wounded all who served and to this day you can see the effects of war on that generation of men.

I remember those like Clinton who served and lost their lives.  I remember those who survived like my brother Allan and my dear friend Pepper.  I am eternally grateful for those who stood in the gap and defended freedom for us.

God bless America!