Topic: " Citizen Soldiers" (5)
The Men of Gondor gathered at Fort McPherson, just south of downtown Atlanta, in the 700 or fewer days remaining in the existence of this military establishment. The responsibilities headquartered at this location will transfer to Fayetteville, North Carolina, within the next two years. What lies ahead for the land and the facilities is up to conjecture, and it was of great interest for Frodo to listen as his comrades discussed the possibilities. One dismissed the suggestion of "Section 8 Housing," while arguing that a tax-advantaged transaction with a major corporate entity would bring another major employer to the area, and create thousands of new opportunities. Another felt that the rolling hills and recreational facilities would make an excellent "green" addition to the quality of life in this outcropping of the Shire. Frodo looked at the officers' quarters, envisioning yellow ribbons on oak trees, and handsome lads amarch to stirring cacophonies upon the parade grounds. The red brick and white trim is a part of the landscape that is our home, dear reader.
The National Museum of the Army Reserve is located herein. Humble by most standards, the displays and the objets d'art are symbolic of the groups who stand ready to respond to the President's call if regular military units require support or supplement. It was an enlightenment to consider the difference between the Army Reserve and the National Guard, and to remember the activities of each during the human conflicts that led to the struggles upon Mount Doom. Many who have served in the Army Reserve were medical practitioners in truth, but that did not mean that they served in the rear echelons. The "Lost Battalion" (starring Ricky Schroeder) of World War One fame was one such Army Reserve unit, immortalized by a gallant homing pigeon who remains displayed in the Smithsonian Institute as one more who served with derring-do when called upon.
The museum itself is "open to the public." The increased security at any military establishment makes public access however almost impossible, if not at least daunting. The lack of knowledge regarding displays such as this is almost stunning, with very few regular army-types themselves having little or any awareness of the existence of such a facility. Frodo and his friends were the only attendees on a cool late-winter afternoon.
The highlight of the visit was to be taken behind the displays to the research facilities. Maintained in temperature-controlled environments are the "souvenirs" of war, brought to the Museum by those who had no further use for that which they had salvaged. In addition, there were the flags and the equipment of divisions and units disbanded after the conflicts no longer required their existence. With gloved-hands, Frodo could examine the pith helmet of a North Vietnamese Regular Officer, or the once-live grenade fashioned from a discarded K-Ration can and welded to become a lethal weapon. Perhaps the helmet had been worn by he who took the life of John Jenkins. Frodo trembled as memories warmed his retinas and brought a flush to his face. With reverence, he touched the patch on the jacket once worn by a "Buffalo Soldier." He was aghast at the storeroom of video and nitrate-based films, too fragile to as yet be transferred to disc. They, too, must wait, until called upon, just so that nothing is lost.
The Men of Gondor stood quietly outside, each remarking upon the professionalism and the dedication of the historians whom they had just met. They, private citizens all, also serve when called upon. Not all who love our land bear its arms, some are those who use their talents to help us remember and to comprehend the path to the summit of Mount Doom.
May Frodo always remember that those who study the liberal arts are not seeking an easier path, but they may actually be seeking to follow that least traveled by.