Once we were done at the Air Station, we were able to just drive around the base and see things. One thing that we got to see that was extremely special was The Beirut Wall. This was made in honor of those that died from Camp Lejeune from the bombing at Beirut. While it is not as massive as the Vietnam Wall, we were easily overcome with emotion looking at the names and knowing why they were on there. Sgt. Coon also explained to us that down a highway on base, there is a place where there are trees planted in the median for each name on the wall.
Off to the side of it was something that needed no explanation, a beam from one of the World Trade Centers. Reading the plague, seeing the steel beam and knowing we are today in this world where we are because of what happened that day, again, we were over come with emotion. Both of these monuments are very powerful and very moving. While they are not in Washington with the other monuments, if you ever have a chance, both of them are something you should see and experience.
We drove around some more and then headed back to the Wounded Warrior Barracks. It was bittersweet as both Taylor and I knew this was our last time there. (for this visit anyways, we sure do hope to come back!)
We were able to joke around with the guys and Sgt. 'Zing' just started harrassing Taylor where he had left off from the last time she saw him. She finally looked at him and bellowed out to drop and give her 20! Boy, he stood at attention and squared himself right away, then he went down and started to count off. Not good enough for the Gunny! She crouched down to make sure he was doing it the Marine way! The guys standing around just howled, but they didn't dare mess with her in fear they were next! I have a few pictures that are just priceless of this.
We did not say good bye to anyone, because we were told that Marines don't say goodbye, as we know we will meet again. We did not get to give our hugs to some that we really wanted to though, so this will be our excuse to try to get back down for a visit again soon.
I know there are other things that we saw and did and I need time to have them all come back to me. So many people were involved in making sure that Taylor was given the royal treatment, but most important, that she felt like a Marine amongst her peers, her fellow Marines. To everyone who worked on this, thank you so much. To those that talked with Taylor and took the time for her, thank you so much. To those of you who didn't treat her like a kid just there for the novelty of it, but treated her like a fellow warrior, thank you so much. I could go on and on, but I really want you all to know how much this was appreciated on so many different levels and for so many different reasons.
As a mom, I will never be able to really give the exact meaning this all had for Taylor. I will never be able to tell just how changed she is, from the inside. What she had gained this week doing what she did and being around who she was, there really is no way to describe it.