Sunday, December 14, 2008

All gave some, some gave all

Saturday, the Tadpole and I went out to get some virtual flags (GeoVexilla) and to find several virtual caches. He's been sick for most of the past week, but wanted to get out, so we figured that if we didn't over do it with too many stops, or too long of hikes it would probably be a good thing for him. The virtual day seemed to be the best way of doing it. Plus, I'd checked out the sites for the virtual flags ahead of time and knew they were all attainable. Getting all the way out there and then being stymied by a fence or something of that nature isn't a lot of fun for a 13 year old, so it was good to be prepared.

One flag took us to a residential neighborhood just around the corner from the Great Western Forum, former home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings. Another took us to the track of a junior high school in Santa Ana, California where I grew up and the third would have taken us right in the middle of a busy street in Stanton. That's the nature of these virtual flags. You never know exactly what you might find there since they get generated randomly by the computer program. Sometimes I've had to hike for them, other times, they're just by the side of a road.

Interspersed with these flags were four virtual caches that I hadn't found yet in the Los Angeles area. The very first one looked to be quite fun at first. As we were approaching the park where the cache was, I noted a large airplain up on a pedestal. Since the cache was called Airplane Park Cache, it made sense, so I noted to the Tadpole that it looked like we were going to have to get some information off the monument in order to get credit for the find. At that time, I hadn't read the cache page, so I was a little unprepared for what we would be looking. It became apparent what this plane was when the first plaque I read near it stated "In Memory of Those Who Never Made it Home."

The plane was a monument to fallen soldiers of the Vietnam War who also hailed from the city of Lakewood, California. There were 42 names on a plaque attached to the pedestal of the plane and we had to find four names, all high school buddies of the cache owner and all who didn't come back from the conflict. Having never lost a buddy in war, or any other way, I cannot imagine the sorrow at losing a friend like that, let alone four. Needless to say, it put a somber tone to most of the rest of the day. Even the Tadpole was affected by my mood.

I feel these monuments are important for our society to remember those who fight to preserve out country's way of life. Vietnam was a very unpopular war. Wouldn't it be nice if we could say that all wars were unpopular? But, just because the war was unpopular, doesn't mean that we should not show the respect to our soldiers who fight in these wars. These war memorials dot the landscape all over the country. Some are well known, while others are only known by a handful of people who live near them. Geocaching allowed me to find another monument this weekend, to learn about some others who fought, those, who before yesterday, were known by two less peop0le than they are today.

As I write this, I'm also thining about my niece's husband who is somewhere in Afghanistan with his marine unit. He's scheduled to come home sometime in January. Somewhere....sometime....that's the nature of this business. We really don't know where he is and we really don't know when he's really coming home. We all pray that he comes home in one piece both physically and mentally.

Looking back at this piece, it didn't turn out to be anything like what I intended it to be. Apparently that first virtual struck a nerve with me.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocache:
The Airplane Park Cache - by ScurvyDog

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tonka_boy said...

Very moving post. My oldest son (who reads this blog) served in the Marine Corps. I knew before my sons were born, that they may be called to serve - that they as individuals, and I as a parent may be called on to sacrifice. Just as my father served, and knew that I may have been called upon.

As luck would have it, I was the wrong age for a war, and now with a volunteer army, so were my sons.

Thank you for reflecting so favorably on our men and women that serve our country.

Just John said...

What a great post. That monument is quite a find as well.