Blog Entry

If You've Been to the Wall

Posted on: May 26, 2008 6:32 am
It is a picture that brings tears to my eyes every time I see it.  The picture of a black marble wall, names etched into it.  A war veteran, his hand over a name, his head down, an impression of solemness and sadness for the viewer.  And still in the picture, a reflection, or perhaps the ghost, of the veterans fallen comrade in arms.  His hand stretched out, through the Wall, touching the hand of the veteran who remembers...

I remember my trip to DC years after The Wall (otherwise known as the Vietnam Memorial) had been erected.  It was with my daughters girl scout troop.  The trip had included the basic stops, the Lincoln and Washington Memorials, the Smithsonian, the Capital Building.  As we went through these buildings the girls were excited, the moms and grandmothers who accompanied their daughters and granddaughters, chattered away.  The demeanors changed though, with the moms and the girls, when we stopped at Arlington Cemetery and stood before the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, when we stopped at the Korean War Memorial and when we stood before the names on The Wall.

For a moment, as I stood before the Wall, the image of that painting came into my mind and tears began to run down my face.  I knew no name on those slabs of black marble.  As my daughter and I walked the length, I touched names and talked to my daughter about the significance of this memorial.  That every name on that wall never made it home.  And as we walked, there were others there, placing items at the bottom of panel where a name was, others taking rubbings of a name that was significant for them.  There was a man, in camoflauge pants on his knees, wiping tears from his face.  My daughter asked why he was crying, and I could only whisper possibilities.  I remember him looking up at us and I could only nod.  How odd, having been out of uniform for nine years then, that I felt a connection with that man who remembered the men who turned out to be his friends while he was over in SE Asia.    How odd, that I felt a connection with the names on the wall, though I knew none of them.

I still feel the same sadness, when I see any memorials that have the names of those who've made the ultimate sacrifice.  Regardless of which war they've served in.  In towns and cities around the US, there are memorials, that honored those who gave their lives in the name of their country.  Memorials where names are etched so they won't be forgotten. 

Today, on Memorial Day, while we're in our backyards enjoying the day with our families.  When we're bar-b-queing and spending time with friends.  When we're just enjoying a day off.  Stop and look up if you see the military jets in missing man formation.  Take a moment and remember those who've given their lives in wars that are now part of the history books.  Take a moment to remember those 4080 lives that have been lost in Iraq and the 507+ that have died in Afghanistan. 

Category: General
Tags: Memorial Day

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: June 12, 2008 2:25 pm

If You've Been to the Wall

   Wars are decided upon by politicians.  They are fought by soldiers (at ground level).  At one time,
war truly was a last resort and waged only when all other alternatives had been exhausted. 
   I wonder, had Mr. Bush ever seen any military action, would he still have decided to wage
this side-war in Iraq.  The only 'point' this war ever had was to undo the oil-development
contracts which Iraq had signed with European, rather than American, oil companies.
   Soldiers do not have the option of deciding whether or not the action to which they are
being sent has any intellectual or moral merit.  As the vulgar phrase has it, 'their's is but
to do and die'.  This situation is unavoidable in military terms.  No commanding field officer
would permit the slightest hesitation about carrying through an order from his men --
else, havoc.
    In SE Asia, units under very deep, advance positions spent the entire time in the jungle,
not knowing what was going on in America.  A soldier in such situations carries on --
in the back of his mind, assuming that his home support is rock-solid.  He does not
expect to return home, almost universally rejected.  I could, but won't, go on.
     Keep up the good work mum.  Much appreciated.

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: June 10, 2008 7:42 pm

If You've Been to the Wall


The news reports showed us that war truly was hell and never as glorified as the John Wayne movies made them out to be.  I think, we as a people, even those who protested and spit upon the soldiers, later realized that we/they did those men returning such a disservice.  I know it took Desert Storm for Vietnam Veterans to finally be recognized in local parades. 


Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: June 10, 2008 7:36 pm

If You've Been to the Wall


I think actually seeing the Wall moves everyone who sees it.  Funny, the girls we took were too young to even really understand the history and what that monument/memorial meant and yet, they were moved by it too.  Perhaps it was because of demeanor of all the adults that were there. 

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: June 10, 2008 7:33 pm

If You've Been to the Wall


I know what you mean about not truly understanding until you've actually put on the uniform. 

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: June 10, 2008 7:31 pm

If You've Been to the Wall


I used to work for a vet outreach center up there.  Working there, I've met alot of Vietnam Vets that were like you and after all those years, still a bit confused with the turn around.  I'm glad your son got to see your tears and hopefully, you took the time to explain it to him.  My uncle was in Nam, in the USAF, he still doesn't talk about it and we don't bring it up.

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: June 10, 2008 7:26 pm

If You've Been to the Wall


There were many poems written by those who returned, by those whose loved ones never made it back.  Each, like the one you posted, brings their own emotion. 

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: June 10, 2008 7:22 pm

If You've Been to the Wall

Sergeant, I think it makes you appreciate the sacrifice that the men and women in uniform make for that freedom. 

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: June 10, 2008 7:19 pm

If You've Been to the Wall

Sorry that I hadn't gotten back to respond to the rest of the replies.  I'll try to catch up and do better next time, my apologies.

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: June 9, 2008 4:29 pm

If You've Been to the Wall

    Well said, mum.  Since no one else has pointed it out, I will.  The Viet Nam memorial was, if
you remember, somewhat late in coming.
    At the risk of showing my age, I remember that when we returned to this country, WE were
the enemy.  We were the vile encroaching soldiers killing innocent Viet Namese who
simply wanted to get on with their lives.  It was not uncommon for returning soldiers
to be vilified here in America .
    It made you think three of four times about what you had been killing people for.
    Still, as you eloquently not, eventually we were forgiven, and a memorial constructed.

Since: Jan 24, 2007
Posted on: June 3, 2008 7:02 pm
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