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A legacy of integrity, service, excellence

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Torri Ingalsbe
  • 90th Missile Wing, Public Affairs
Last Friday was sunny and hot, the wind uncharacteristically calm for a Cheyenne afternoon. A slight breeze lifted the flags on the long, black wall, etched with the names of so many. It was the deep slice in the beautiful green landscape that brought people from all over the area to Lions Park. It was a traveling memorial that gave me the opportunity to honor and remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

When I arrived at the park, I took a few moments to gather my things before making my way over to the tent where volunteers were reading the names of the service members who had never come home from Vietnam. I noticed a man and his family in the parking lot. He was older, probably in his 60's or 70's, and he had difficulty walking. His family pulled a walker from the car with a seat attached to it. I overheard them saying he should sit since it was a long walk from the parking lot to the wall. Hot tears pricked at the corners of my eyes when the man stood tall and pushed himself defiantly forward.

He walked as straight as he could, his wrinkled face showing a quiet grief for those who could not come back with him. His watery eyes carried a pride and pain that can only be known by a combat veteran. He slowly approached the wall and, with an outstretched hand, ran his gnarled fingers over the names, as if he was touching the hand of a friend.

I walked to my own sections of the wall - those that held the names from January 31, 1968. I ran my fingers over the names I have heard many times in my life, men who fought and died beside my father and his friends, who I have always known as uncles. Men whose faces I will never see and whose voices I will never hear. But their bravery, their service and their excellence are a legacy I am proud to carry. I looked down to see little flags, flowers and teddy bears at my feet, small tokens of appreciation for the sacrifices made.

I noticed the time and made my way over to the podium where a book was opened to the "H's." I checked my service uniform - ribbons straight, insignia polished, free of lint and wrinkles - before stepping up to the microphone. The next half hour I read the names of my brothers who never came home. I realized in that moment that we are all interconnected. We have all made the promise to give our lives in service to this country. I held my head higher and felt a warm pride spreading over me.

In my first year in the Air Force, someone told me that to read the names of the fallen and the lost is to remember them. Memorial services like The Moving Wall serve as a reminder for us to pay tribute to our fallen brothers and sisters, no matter the day. They remind us of the amazing legacy we are a part of, and that we have been charged and entrusted to uphold.

To all the veterans, past and present, thank you for your service, sacrifice and legacy. We will always honor and remember you.