May 29, 2006

The Wall

The monuments in Washington all seemed false in the cool morning mist. They were big and white and extravagant, yet the tourists cheapened them somehow as they gawked, took photos, an scurried to the next place on their list of things to see. Their attention seemed to focus on what things were rather than why they were. The scene was a poor sample of Americana. Even Honest Abe seemed to frown from his throne. Of all the walls of stone only on seemed real.

This wall's long black marbles slices into the ground. On it are engraved fifty-eight thousand American names from an undeclared war that no one wants to remember in the jungles of a country half a globe away. There are no ornate scrolls or stenciled directions, no fancy faded pieces of parchment, no self-serving sentiments, just names.

There's also a statue some distance away. Three bronze soldiers stare into the wall, waiting for word of their fellow soldiers or perhaps mourning their loss. The soldier's don't talk; they simply stare. They were all just boys, most only six years than I was then: nineteen.

Under the statue-soldier's gaze, and elderly man lagged behind a tour group at the wall. He caressed it and knelt to leave a single rose at the base. He sobbed. He had difficulty standing up. A nearby park attendant helped him up and asked, "One of yours, sir?" The man shook his head and replied, "Not one of them. All of them."

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 29, 2006 08:50 AM | TrackBack

It is hard to believe that one of the most poignant and moving memorials was origilinally villified as shaming the rememberence of those who gave their all in Viet-Nam. My father served in WWII where he won a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart with two clusters. Yet the Wall with its stark simplicity outdoes the others--except that the Korean War platoon is a close second, especially in a light snow.

God bless and keep safe our troops currently in the field.

Thank a living WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Kuwait, Afganistan, and Iraq vet. Pray for those who sacrifices their lives.


Posted by: Peter Schwartz at May 29, 2006 08:28 AM

"Not one of them. All of them"

That is exactly how the WALL makes you feel. It is beauty and tragedy, it was overwhelming for me the first time I visited shortly after it was erected, made all the more so because I have a family member by marriage listed on the Wall as MIA.

I would like to invite everyone to visit In Memory of our Honored Dead - Memorial Day Tributes

Posted by: Sara (Squiggler) at May 29, 2006 08:46 AM

The "Memorial Wall" teach the wrong lesson. It teach the same lesson that the Media is trying to teach the American people now to get us to abandon our effect to control the Middle East now. The name of the soldiers that die is transcend by their sacrafied for national interest and glory. Any "memorial" that concentrate on the individual names desecrated the cause they die for.

The Vietnamese Memorial Wall set a bad trend in monument design into self narcissism for the living rather then honor the death, and is a very bad military monuments. Military monument should show nothing that do not gloried military power and national glory that these men die for. Our death in the Vietnam War can be better represent that by a black wall with their name etch in it, as if they sacrafied have not other meining. How about a monument listing the battle win by each units, the number of enemies kills. That would be a more appropriates memorial.

Posted by: Anh at May 30, 2006 08:38 AM

The point of the Memorial Wall and Memorial Day is to honor the individual sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform, particularly those who have lost life or limb as a result of their service. The purpose is not to glorify war, but to remember that war requires the sacrifice of brave young men and women.

We need to take this Memorial Day holiday to remember that even now our government is sending our young people to be maimed and killed for phony reasons just as it did in Vietnam. The ultimate disgrace of this weekend was having the murderers of over 2000 of our brave young men and women and of countless thousands of innocent Iraqis dare to speak at Arlington Cemetary. Every veteran and everyone who cares about our brave young people in uniform is utterly disgusted by the hypocrisy of Bush and Rumsfeld.

Posted by: Chuck at May 30, 2006 10:51 AM

Thanks for stepping up and speaking for "all veterans," their families, and their friends, Chuck.

I'm glad you have the authority to do that.


Posted by: Confederate Yankee at May 30, 2006 10:55 AM

Several years ago we had the "Moving Wall" in Boise, ID. I took my father, at that time aged about 80, and a WWII vet, to see the Wall. The seeing of the Wall made him understand the scope of the loss of life in Vietnam. Before, the numbers quoted were just numbers. Now he understood the Real Meaning of the numbers.

I later talked with a Marine Vet, who lost a leg to a landmine, about the Wall. How but for the Grace of God, we could have been on it. He said that people ask him if he is angry about losing a leg in Vietnam. His answer is "I Came Back". Many of his friends did not, and are now on that Wall. (By the way, he went back to Vietnam and married a Vietnamese lady, who we think a lot of.)

We should look at the names there, and remember that they were ordinary people, just doing their duty (which many shirked). We should all be like them, and do OUR duty, what ever the outcome.

Conrad Parvin, USN (Ret)

Posted by: Conrad Parvin at May 31, 2006 12:19 PM