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Remember the dead 

Arroyo Grande

The other day, as I was walking into Albertsons, I saw a guy all dressed up in new black leather motorcycle gear placing some stuff he bought in a black leather rucksack on the back of shiny new big black Harley. He had parked it just left of the entrance next to the wall.

I talked to him, admiring his machine. He looked like a Filipino-American through his helmet with the shield down.

He told me he is a Vietnam vet and his Filipino friend had planned to go with him to the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C., but his friend couldn’t make it. There was a death in the family.

All the Vietnam vets with motorcycles in the Southern California area were planning to gather in Phoenix to ride as a group on I-10 to Washington for the Memorial Day weekend. He hated to go alone, he said, but there was no stopping him from seeing old buddies. I wished him luck.

The Vietnam memorial in Washington is the most profound public war memorial structure ever built in the United States. I have not seen it in person, but I have been moved by it. I can only imagine how it moves vets who find their friends’ names there.

The short encounter in front of Albertsons makes me have more feeling for that day than ever before. I will remember the vet on his shiny, black Harley on Memorial Day and what that day means to him and all the other Vietnam and more recent vets who have lost friends in a U.S. war.

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