They made it! And I'm so pleased that I was in time to walk the last 1/2 mile with the Resolve to Win marchers.
After 16 days and 383.2 miles, they arrived at the Lincoln Memorial. I can't imagine how they must have felt (tho, this picture on their most recent web post may give you some idea!), but I was so VERY proud to be standing with them.
Each of the three core marchers (wearing grey Army jackets in the picture) said a few words at the end, and I think the message was: please use our efforts to explain to other Americans how serious our troops are about wanting to finish their mission in Iraq and the rest of the War on Terror successfully. They want to win.
A few more pictures are below, but a few final thoughts...
I love the Lincoln Memorial, partially because I think it is our most visually moving presidential memorial (what a fantastic sculpture), but even more because of the words that are etched on its inside walls: the text of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address. I walk by the Lincoln Memorial on average 5 or 6 times a month. I don't actually climb the steps each time, but when I do, I always pause to read both speeeches again. They are not long, but oh my are they dense. Pithy. Important.
Dennis McCool's words today - the man who conceived of the Resolve to Win march - made me think of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. You can read it in its entirety here, but these are the words that rang in my head as I listened to Dennis:
"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
It's not a civil war this time, it's a Global War, but the words have no less meaning.
Our men and women in uniform and many others have stepped up again. Do we have their backs or not?
As Dennis told me today, he feels that their efforts have common cause with Soldiers' Angels. Go read Dennis' finish line web post and see if you don't agree. I hope you'll honor his request and accept the baton for the next leg of the Resolve to Win effort: support our troops and their families - active duty, reserve, or retired.
My gratitude to these guys for their original service, their return to duty to serve in Iraq, and now for making such a dramatic and awesome statement on behalf of our other boots on the ground.