Sunday, April 9, 2017

Maryland XIV

When I came home from 'Nam, I knew I wanted to go to school. I had seen far too many guys in the Army who just had no other choices and I didn't want that. I learned that I simply had to know more, or at least have pieces of paper, that said I knew more, if I wanted more control over my life.

No one in my immediate family had graduated from college, although education among Irish-Americans was considered mandatory. The reasons for that are many and often complicated and not for this particular site, but I heard from the time I could understand that"You will go to college..." There was no money for this and none available to save, so how this was supposed to happen was never discussed. I did hear things like "You'll have to win a scholarship" and such, but that didn't happen.

So, the Army, that is, the G.I. Bill provided for the possibility and my experiences in the Army provided the incentive.

I went to the local Community College first and after some bumps in the road graduated and then transferred to the University of Maryland, where I finished up.

I went back to the University in conjunction with the ABC7 news feature on this project, which aired recently.

The memorial at the University sits next to the Chapel which can be accessed from Route 1 in College Park, Md.

 It is elegant in its simplicity: a wall, two stone benches and a plaque upon a pedestal.

There are no names listed and I wonder why that is and how many of my fellow students served and how many were lost.

The late 60's and early 70's were turbulent times in the nation and this was reflected at the University. The National Guard was on campus and tension ran high, this may, or may not, have influenced the thinking behind the memorial. It certainly is reflected in the dedication phrase "...all who were touched by the fire of Vietnam..."

As I stood there, looking at it, I recalled that just weeks after my return RFK was killed in California and that all leaves, passes etc were cancelled as we were all turned out for riot training. Those of us just returned could not believe this was happening, that we were being asked to turn our weapons on our fellow citizens. I was stationed very near Washington DC and for several weekends all my fellow soldiers were actually sent to DC to try to control the rage and pain of DC's citizens. It was not pretty. I belonged to Headquarters and Headquarters Company and I believe we were the only company that did not travel up to DC for riot duty, after all, somebody had to turn the lights off back at the fort!

Anyway, I am glad I finally made it back to see the site.

If you would like to see the ABC7 feature, go here:

Update: The film listed above won Top  Prize from the Associated Press Awards, two Edward R. Murrow Awards and two Emmys, so check it out if you haven't already!

Next time, on the 14th, we will take another trip to Nebraska, so join me there at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from Maryland, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

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