Friday, July 25, 2008

Viet Nam Memorial

The war in Viet Nam went on forever. Well, really, about sixteen years. 1959 until 1975. I remember my son, when he was about seven or eight, saying to me, "Mom, when I grow up, will I have to go fight in Viet Nam?" We had been at war since before he was born. I worried about that for quite a number of years. Our family was not touched by a death in Viet Nam but we, like almost everyone else, had many friends who weren't so blessed.

This week a neighboring town erected a replica of the Viet Nam War Memorial Wall in D.C. I've never seen the one in D.C., and decided to make a small pilgrimage to Wildwood to see it. I went early in the morning, trying to beat the heat and also the tourist traffic. I was a bit disappointed when I saw it. Don't know quite what I had expected, but this wasn't it. I think the problem was the setting. It was
erected in a park full of sports equipment, and the background for it was a chain link fence along the sidewalk, and traffic moving past.

Still, When I walked along in front of the seemingly endless wall of names - hundreds and hundreds of names - it was a very moving experience.

Those of us who remember those sixteen years cannot help but wonder how long today's war will last, how many lives will be lost, how many of today's children will head out to God knows what, where will we find ourselves a few years from now....


Paul Nichols said...

You have a nice blog. I came here from Ralph's Homespun Headlines. My First Wife and I particularly appreciate your Autism link. One of our grandsons has Autism.

Anyway, nice blog. I'll stop by once in awhile. Stop by my joint when you're in the neighborhood.

AppleDebbie said...

Bobbie... Like you, I have never seen the Viet Nam memorial in person but it is almost mind boggling to see the long list of names on that wall in your photo. When my son was a senior in high school he received dozens of calls from military recruiters encouraging him to enlist. Fortunately college was a priority to him and he continued his education at UC Santa Cruz. It isn't easy being a "liberal" in our small conservative town... your blog has inspired me to be a bit more outspoken about the issues that are important to me.

Dianne said...

I've been to the memorial in DC twice. The first time was very hard as I didn't know what to expect. There's a booth set up with books where you can look up the name of the person you're visiting and then find where they are on the wall.

I was thinking of my high school crush David but the line was long for the book so I decided to walk the wall. You walk down an incline and as I did I swear Bobbie, the air changed. It became still yet full - if that makes sense.

I just randomly touched names and looked at little pictures and saying left there. I saw a young man tracing his Dad's name off the wall onto a piece of paper. He was crying, I handed him a tissue, we never spoke - just looked at each other. It is very quiet there except for the small children - their banter is a relief.

That's all the emotions that came to me right now.

bobbie said...

Yes, Dianne, even in this setting, with only a half-sized wall that looked, except when you stood directly in front of it, rather like a cardboard cutout, it was emotional. Even without knowing there was a name of a loved one there somewhere, you had to feel it. I did know there were several names of boys I had known. But that wouldn't have mattered. Each name represented someone important to us all.

Bear Naked said...

I remember reading about the controversy concerning the design of the Viet Nam War Memorial Wall before it was erected.
After it was opened everyone agreed that it was a powerful abd fitting memorial to all who gave up their lives to that war.
Thank you for your get well wishes,
they are appreciated.

Bear((( )))

KGMom said...

Bobbie--this is my first time here, drawn in by the title of this posting.
The Vietnam War! I am old enough to call that "my generation's war." I have two friends killed there.
I did go to see the original Wall in DC--and was so moved. It is literally a gash in the earth--and you walk down to the Wall. The black granite shines and reflects. There are mementos left by the people who visit. Names are arranged by the day the person was killed, then alphabetically.
I looked up the name of the men I knew--one was a childhood friend of my husband's; the other was the president of our college class.
So so sad--where have all the young men gone?

Judy said...

I have not seen the Viet Nam memorial either. I remember the war and was so scared my son would have to go. I am sure I would be very touched by the wall and all the names on it.

Unknown said...

I was a little kid when the war ended. Even as a child, I remember how very much I thought of it, how badly I wanted it to end. In those days, you actually saw real war footage on the television and it left a lasting impact on me. Now we have a press that pretends there is no war and our young people, I'm afraid, are not as connected to the violence, despair and agony that war is.