This past week when my grandsons were visiting we went to the Worlds Fair Park here in Knoxville. Not far from the infamous Sunsphere, is the East Tennessee Veteran’s Memorial. It’s a solemn spot, as all such locations are. Each Medal of Honor awardee from East Tennessee has his own granite pillar and the names of all the fallen are listed on other pillars, grouped by wars.
There are a lot of names. I ended up having to discuss and explain things with my elder grandson that I found difficult to talk about with a seven year old.
Centered on one end is the pillar below with a poem I had never seen before from an Army Major written at Dak To on 1 January 1970. I write about two earlier battles at Dak To in 1967 where the 173rd Airborne was involved in New York Minute and Lawyers, Guns and Money, but by 1970 we were still fighting over the same hills that didn’t even have names, just numbers.
Major O’Donnell was KIA at Dak To on 24 March 1970, serving as a helicopter pilot.
Rarely have I seen the wishes of a veteran more aptly described than in this poem: