by William R. Ablan, Pen Name of Richard L. Muniz
Just outside the small town of Romeo, Colorado, on Highway 285, there’s a memorial. As things go, it’s a simple affair. Its metal tablets are framed by a wall made from local stones. There’s nothing grand about it like the Iwo Jima Monument, nor heart wrenching like the ‘Nam Wall.
Thousand of people drive past it every day and don’t give it a second glance. Yet, it’s part of our history in the [San Luis] Valley and covers the First and Second World Wars. The wall reflects something that seems odd at times. There is no segregation on it. I know from experience that combat is the great equalizer. On the battlefield it doesn’t matter if you’re an Anglo, Hispanic, Negro, Asian, Native American, or like yours truly, a Heinz 57. It doesn’t matter if you were a Catholic, a Mormon, Baptist, Buddhist, Atheist, or whatever. It also doesn’t matter if you’re straight, gay, or someplace in between. Republican, Democrat, or what.
On the battlefield what makes everyone equal is someone is trying their best to kills us. Your job is come home alive, and that means putting the differences aside. I’m reminded of a scene in the movie 84C MoPic, where someone asks one of the characters what he thought about being led by a black man. The character being asked the question was from the deep south, and the question irritated him. He responded by telling the guy that it was the wrong question. He said, “Why don’t you ask if I love him like a brother, because I do,” and that he would die for him, and the man the question was asked would he do the same for him? Then he told the interviewer to turn off the camera.
In combat, there are no race, political parties, or other divisions. The battlefield is the great equalizer.
The wall reflects that idea. Smith is right next to Martinez who’s right next to Kenoshi. There’s no “C” to denote Catholic, “No “LDS” to reflect Latter Day Saints, or “B” for Baptist or Buddhist. There’s no “R” for Republican or “D” for Democrat.
Nor is it reflected who came back, or who didn’t.
What is reflected is the names of men who left their plows and families to go a fight for their country. It’s mute testimony to heartbreak when leaving friends and family. It tells the story of long nights in foxholes, or pain felt from being wounded. It’s about watching men you’ve come to love a brother die thousands of miles from home. It’s a testament to freezing at twenty three thousand feet and dropping bombs on cities with names you probably pronounced wrong.
Most of the men on that wall are gone now. In most cases they’re nothing more now than a picture fading away in a box someplace.
It’s up to us, the living, to make sure they don’t fade away completely.
From the Ablan/Muniz website. Used with permission.
The author is an army veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He’s written about his experiences there in 501st MPs at War!
And the introductory post where you may give feedback on 501st MPs at War!
William Ablan is a twenty year veteran of several police and sheriffs’ offices. He served with the 1st Armored Division during the Gulf War as a Military Policeman. He’s worked extensively with various emergency response agencies and is a veteran of numerous emergencies and disasters. Today, he works in the Information Technology field, teaches, and lives in Greeley, Colorado, with his wife and family.
Great post! When I was in the Army, I was taught there was only one color … OD Green!
[…] Joy Neal Kidney shares a poignant reflection by veteran William R. Ablan. […]
Wise and appropriate words.
It is to bad it is not like this every where. In war or not.
This was an excellent choice to commemorate those who fought and died.
I agree! I also like the way he processes his life experiences.