One day back in 1984, while I as still on active duty, at Fort Meade, I visited the Vietnam ar Memorial on the National Mall. What immediately caught my eye was the sight of a black gentleman, dressed in the uniform of a full colonel of the US Air Force, kneeling down. I also noticed something very few people not in the service would have picked out- I noticed that the mass of ribbons over his left uniform breast pocket included the Purple Heart. He noticed my gaze and said, "I'm looking for my navigator. I got shot down and spent three years in the Hanoi Hilton."
I said, "Sir, you have paid some awfully dues for your country"
He said, quite cheerfully, "Yes, I'm one of the lucky of the unlucky, I guess." I didn't get the Colonel's name, but I've seen him on a History Channel special- and I certainly thought of him on Veteran's Day.