The Moving Wall, the half-size replica of the Vietnam War memorial in Washington, D.C., has now moved on to its next exhibit. The wall was the scene of countless emotional moments in the time since it arrived in Brown County last Wednesday. The experience underscores the fact that the wounds of war are not limited to the injuries a warrior’s body suffers, and their effects linger long after a truce is declared.
And the evidence to support that point continues to mount.
On Monday, the first Medal of Honor awarded for combat in Afghanistan was presented Monday to the family of a Navy SEAL who gave his life on June 28, 2005, to make a radio call for help for his team. President Bush presented the nation's highest military honor for valor to the family of Lt. Michael Murphy of Patchogue, N.Y.
And over the weekend, the tragic news regarding the family of Army Spc. John Austin Johnson came to the world’s attention. The Fort Bliss soldier is being treated in San Antonio for combat injuries suffered in Iraq, and his wife and three children were driving from El Paso when their SUV overturned on Interstate 10 near Ozona. The couple’s two youngest children were killed, and their third is fighting for life in a Dallas hospital.
Johnson has survived five brushes with improvised explosive device blasts during two years in Iraq, an Army spokesman said. The latest left him with a traumatic brain injury, and he speaks with a severe stutter.
Several speakers at ceremonies held during The Moving Wall’s exhibit here spoke specifically about the tremendous sacrifices family members of the armed services make in support of their loved ones. Some of those sacrifices are financial, and they hopefully can in time be overcome. But the situation with which the Johnson family must deal is overwhelming. And given the fact that the soldier’s family was traveling in support of an American injured in Iraq, those children are also indirect casualties of war.
Fortunately, hundreds of people are stepping forward to do what they can to help, whether it’s donating burial plots in the family’s Arkansas home or donating money to a bank account to help the family with expenses.
The passage of time may help people cope with such tragedies and hardships, but as numerous reactions witnessed at The Moving Wall in recent days illustrate, time can’t blot them out. They last a lifetime.