Bill Copland's Account of Day 8 Part 2

Sunday, Day 8 Part 2 .................

We arrived in Washington late Sunday afternoon, just as it started to get dark, and went to Walter Reed Army Medical Center right away.

Because this is an active Army base, all of our names were submitted in advance.

We had to leave the trucks behind, parked in the National Arboretum, and every one boarded the buses, unlike previous hospital visits, these patients would be unable to be outside to see our arrival.

2007 National Christmas Tree Tour

As we entered the hospital grounds, the buses had to swerve past the jersey barriers to make a slow arrival at the front entrance.

We were told, since we would be seeing individual patients, it was asked that we respect their privacy and put all cameras away.

This is the only picture any of us took at Walter Reed.

2007 National Christmas Tree Tour

Again, we were reminded because this is an active Army base, strict security precautions had to be observed, and we would be unable to present cards of any kind that were not addressed to specific patients.

We were separated into individual groups and taken to visit our patients, for the most part, we were given three patients each we would be allowed to visit in their rooms.

This was the moment we had all been waiting for, to see patients recently arrived from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In my group we had two men and a woman. ( I will never call them "girls" again ) They were wounded in October, or just a few weeks before.

I won't go into detail, that is not neccessary, but it is as you would expect, young men and women missing limbs.

They were in a nice modern hospital, nice clean modern rooms decorated with Christmas trees and cards from their friends and families, and as we visited some of them were there with their wives and children.

It was not easy to speak, but they broke the ice, hugging us and saying thank you for coming, their spirits were overwhelming.
We explained that we were Viet Nam veterans and wanted to make sure they were remembered at Christmas.
To inject a little levity, we gave them USS Bennington / Town of Bennington coffee cups so they would remember "the day the sailors came to town."

The torch has been passed to a fine American generation.


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