WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- “My love," Donna Smoot said as she held a photo of her late husband close to her heart.
“He was in one of those thousand mile stares and I just started snapping pictures," she added.
Her husband, James Robert Smoot, served in Vietnam from 1967-1968. His wife knows all too well the wounds from the war don't heal easily.
“He told me, he said you might not want to marry me. He said I’m really messed up from the war and I had already fallen in love with him. And I said, I want to marry you and I want to learn," she said.
Having someone to share the pain with, Smoot said, helped her husband heal. Later in life, he filed three claims for Agent Orange and battled bladder cancer and chronic kidney disease. Now his life and his service are being remembered at the Vietnam in memory service.
The Vietnam in Memory program honors veterans who have died since the war.
Smoot said the event is bringing her closer to her late husband.
“I took a walk down and I walked by the wall where his buddies are there. On July 28 1968 he was on R&R and came back and his platoon had been wiped out. So they’re on the wall," she added.
Smoot said her husband never forgot that day and remembered it each year since. She keeps that tradition going.
“We go to the little local restaurant where he always ate lunch just called Lu’s restaurant in Roanoke Virginia and he would order a frosted mug and a beer and salute it, sit down we’d have lunch and we’d leave the beer there. And the people at the restaurant who were good friends of ours left it there all day," Smoot said.
Memories of her late husband are all around. As Smoot is comforted by others on similar journeys. The day a reminder for her that their love is as strong as ever.
“I miss him greatly but I know someday I’ll see him again.”