National Vietnam Memorial offered mirror to past

National Vietnam Memorial offered mirror to past

Featured, Gazette Column
More than 45 years have passed since my brother gave his life while serving the nation. This week I stood before the national monument honoring the brother I never really knew and the 58,273 other men and women who lost their lives in Vietnam. While the memorial is a massive, granite structure, it isn’t immediately imposing. Visitors follow sidewalks away from the bustle of traffic to a more isolated place within the National Mall. Panels of black granite, each etched with names, are placed into the hillside. At the edges, the panels are smaller. But, moving toward the center, the panels tower above, effectively blocking out the rest of the world and reflecting only what is within the memorial at that moment. You read the names. You see yourself and…
Read More
Providing for the living honors the dead

Providing for the living honors the dead

Gazette Column
Monday I will honor my brother, who gave his life in Vietnam while serving our nation. I won’t stand at his gravesite and mourn, nor will I march around town with an American flag or other patriotic accessories. I won’t be spending my money at any of the many Memorial Day sale events. I honor my brother as well as all of our nation’s fallen by caring for veterans who have returned home and active military families who wait. And while that sounds simple — to make it a priority to care and provide for those who have served — it is a concept government officials have not yet grasped. [caption id="attachment_1118" align="alignleft" width="401"] Volunteers work to raise American flags along the edge of the cemetery in Oxford, Iowa. (Brian…
Read More
Veteran death is shameful

Veteran death is shameful

Gazette Column
Statistics are just numbers on a page, something we read before shaking our heads and moving on to the next thing — until they strike close to home. It has been a week since the frozen body of Army veteran Richard Miles was found in Water Works Park on the western side of Des Moines near Gray’s Lake. There was no apparent trauma. His clothing was not cut or ripped. He wore no coat or shoes, although a single shoe and jacket were discovered nearby. The 41-year-old had served three tours in the Middle East, beginning in 2002. Friends, co-workers and family members believe he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was not receiving the level of care he needed. According to a timeline of Miles’ final days provided…
Read More