Monday, July 10, 2017

Some Wounds Never Heal

Every summer, NHPCO welcomes student interns who are involved in a wide range of projects for the organization and its affiliates. This summer, our three interns participated in an Honor Flight event in DC and we asked them to share their experience. This is the first of three blogs that will run this week.

 Thomas Brown was his name. The Marine Corpsman who gave his life in 1967 during the Vietnam War. I had the honor of accompanying one of his friends, David Sparks, around Washington, D.C. the day after July 4th as he was honored on the Central Missouri Honor Flight. David remembers “Tom” as a fun-loving guy who helped him get through the harrowing experiences of war. Together, David and I searched for Tom’s name on the wall of the Vietnam War Memorial. It took some time but once we did a moment of hushed, somber remembrance covered the both of us. After a moment of silence, David turned to me and said, “The first war we ever fought as a free nation was amongst ourselves.” He paused as he let the gravity of that glimmer of truth sink in.

David’s perspective and reverent demeanor was mirrored among the 110 other veterans who traveled with him to Washington D.C. The day was filled with small talk about family and work as well as periods of laughter, tears and healing. Every man present carried on their minds the true magnitude and cost of war. It was truly an honor to be a part of this moving experience for so many Veterans from Central Missouri. As the grand-niece of a Vietnam War veteran myself, this visit had a deeper meaning for me. My uncle came home physically and mentally injured from the war. It was through the support of fellow servicemen that really helped him to heal and carry on in his civilian life.

However, some wounds are slower to heal than others while some may never heal. To this day, my uncle is still unable to see or hear the names of the friends he lost in battle. Respecting the space he needs to continue to heal, even all these years later, I decided that I would accompany some of his fellow servicemen on this spiritual, healing journey. Standing there, at the Vietnam memorial with David as we looked upon Tommy Brown’s name, I couldn’t help tears from springing into my eyes. This man was just one of the thousands who died to honor the spirit of America. The gravity of what these men and women endured in battle and sacrificed on our behalf really hit me at that moment.

This is why I am so proud to be able to assist an organization who seeks to directly honor Veterans while ensuring that they have the best possible end of life care one could hope for. Veterans and service members should not be forgotten due to the sacrifices they have made. To the Veterans reading this: thank you, as to the NHPCO: thank you for making a Veteran’s care at the end of life one of your priorities. 

By Libby Cronican
Libby is an intern working with NHPCO’s affiliate Hospice ActionNetwork. She is a Philosophy major who just graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota with her Bachelor of Arts degree.  Her senior thesis involved investigating how to preserve the dignity of individuals as they approach the end of life and formulating ethical responses to the loss of dignity in end of life care. 

See blog #2, "Honoring America's Heroes." 

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