Tuesday evening was quite an event in my little town of Auburn Alabama. It was the 45th anniversary of Ia Drang and the dramatic story of LZXRAY told in the 1992 book Lt. General Hal Moore wrote with author Joe Galloway. Both men were honored Tuesday evening by the mayor, the city management and citizens. Hal Moore is an icon of our town, but he is a greater icon of the U.S. Army, which extends into other services as was evident that evening when USA, USAF, USMC and USN personnel showed up along with us civilians to meet and share time with him. The general has other admirers too, namely the actors who portrayed him and his sergeant in the movie "We Were Soldiers" and his good friend Tony LaRussa the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. They each called in to speak to him and Joe. Sam Elliot's voice is a like a deep drum, thrumming melodiously. He seemed emotional and greatly honored by his association with the 88 year old hero. Tony was teasing. Mel Gibson, who portrayed the general in the movie was goofy but sincere.
From where I was standing I couldn't see all the activity. Little Boy and Eldest Son went with me and both got autographs. Little Boy, who has enlisted in the Navy, shook the general's now fragile hand. My proudest moment came when he purposely went and sat next to a combat veteral who was there in full dress uniform accompanied by his service dog. Little Boy quietly thanked him for his service and then walked away. The young man was seated but you could clearly make out the shape of two prosthetic legs under his uniform trousers.
Given the general's age we may never have another chance to meet him. He lives quietly now, and attends regularly at St. Michael's Catholic Church but we are not members there. But it was one of those rare moments when I was really glad we moved here and they could look one of the greatest generals ever in the eye. And I could see my sons are men who he would also respect if they were his troops.