The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Not Mine Alone

So there I was at the Portland VA yesterday.  Veterans of all sorts walked, limped, shambled, rolled, or simply sat, their scars and wounds visible on their bodies, and in their faces.  As I made my way to my appointment with the bone doctor, I took in the view through a window of the photo below.  And it took the time to say a few things to me.

 

Yaknow, it’s kinda strange. I see the American flag out and about, and while i notice it, it doesn’t particularly stand out to me.

 

But put that flag on the hallowed ground of a military installation no matter how humble or grand, or in this case a VA hospital where the wounds of war are visible everywhere,  and a transformation takes place.  A corner of my mind is transported to a place where once there hung a strip of fabric, but now those colors come to life.

 

A pulse beats, a composite rhythm of battles, of hardship, moments of camaraderie, the inner gulp of courage in the face of death. I can feel the weight of the sum of American sacrifice in the languid roll of its furls, the burdened steps of those who have come and gone, as a single, solemn symphony, the full Portrait of American Patriots.

 

It moves me.  It is me.  But it is not me alone.

 

Somehow imbued in these colors is a collective living being, whose purpose is to simply be, an image of us, both a memory of who we’ve been, and a projection of who we will be.  We who have gathered in our country’s moment of need leave a critical piece of ourselves in that being, so that it grows stronger.  It is our responsibility, as citizens, to not see only ourselves, but to see all other Americans.  I am startled to realize that the pulse I hear while standing before these Colors is my own.    And comforted as I sense that it is not mine alone.

 

Perhaps I recognize the smallness of my own voice in its breath. Perhaps my understanding of the knowledge of battle allows me to recognize greater voices. Those who have gone before leave a telltale echo. And I feel the companionship of others who hear it too. Each of our voices sound, to us, small in this symphony. Together though, a character emerges that none of us knew we had.

 

The pulse I hear while standing before these Colors is my own.  And yet, I it is not mine alone.

 

We each have discovered a surprise within ourselves; abilities, courage, and qualities we didn’t know we had, and might never have known. To those who have helped me and accepted into their ranks, there is only one thing I can say, and it isnt enough.

Thank You.

Photo looking out the window of the Portland VA Center.

 

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