November 12, 2009

The Wall.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:15 pm

vietnam-memorialI had thought I would write more about the entire experience of visiting Washington D.C. on Veterans Day, but that turns out to be a problem, because, despite having seen several memorials and having been dumbstruck by Arlington National Cemetery, I cannot get my mind off the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (a/k/a “The Wall”).

There are no spires, fountains, or dramatic figures on The Wall; just 58,261 names – the names of those who served, but who never got to come home. As I slowly walked past each of the many panels covered with names, stopping at most of them, it struck me hard that most of the people whose names appear on The Wall would have about the same age as I am now. I knew a couple of them.

It’s only because of life’s crapshoot and the mystery of how the military decided what each of us would do and where we would be assigned to do it that I was able to look at the names on The Wall instead of being one of them.

May they all rest in peace.


  1. 58,261 individuals who never came home. That is an incredible number. Each one with a family, dreams and aspirations. God bless them and may they truly rest in peace.

    Comment by Kevin — November 12, 2009 @ 10:34 pm

  2. I often think there should be an extension to The Wall… of those who continue to die as a result. I know so many people whose fathers died from exposure to Agent Orange. Casualties still occuring…

    I can’t visit The Wall. Not yet.

    Comment by Bou — November 12, 2009 @ 11:53 pm

  3. I think I’ve seem all the major sites except for the wall.

    Comment by Mark — November 13, 2009 @ 1:08 am

  4. Jimbo:

    You can get an excellent book at the Lincoln Memorial (or maybe Amazon): Shrapnel in the Heart by Laura Palmer. A book written by a journalist. She interviewed family members of selected fallen soldiers. Truly haunting and memorable. After reading the book, I went back to the Wall and found several soldiers names. I am glad that you had a great visit!

    Comment by Lee — November 13, 2009 @ 3:19 am

  5. I went there for the first time many years ago, and though I have no direct connection to Vietnam (Uncle, other family served there, not me, all came back), it hits. It is still hits me the hardest of any memorial in DC so far.

    Comment by Laughing Wolf — November 13, 2009 @ 6:13 am

  6. Thanks for your service, Jim.

    Comment by Mr. Bingley — November 13, 2009 @ 8:18 am

  7. What makes the wall so haunting is the names. The Iwo Jima Memorial, The Tomb of The Unknown and The WWII memorials are very tasteful, very fitting but by no means personal.
    The Wall actually tells you who that war took. It shows that war is not a John Wayne film but a gory process that shatters and in this case, ends lives.
    The NJ Memorial in Holmdel is just about as hard-hitting because it does not just list the names….it lists the date of their passing. I found the date that I was born and saw that 3 or 4 men died in Southeast Asia that day and that gave me pause.
    War while sometimes necessary…just sucks. 2 years military academy with 4 years active duty that ended with an infantry blue cord, Ranger tab, jump wings, air assault wings and deployments to some of the worst shit-holes on the planet tell me….the biggest pacifists on the planet are infantrymen. We do not want to go to war because we know it is US who will end up getting shot at.
    A trip to The Wall should be mandatory for every American at least once….if for no other reason than to see what freedom costs.

    Comment by RobbieRob — November 13, 2009 @ 9:03 am

  8. I’m glad you had such a meaningful experience…I, too, have seen The Wall but, alas, was too young to understand its meaning at the time…11 years old…I didn’t even know what or where Vietnam was at that age, but, as one grows older and learns a little, one thing I have learned about The Wall, and which seizes my heart every time I think about it, is just thinking about all those names…on that one Wall. As diverse as those men were, both in who they were and where they came from, their heroism and Americanism completely unify them…they become one. It truly moves me just thinking about it. You were very lucky, but because of them we are all very lucky, too.

    Comment by Erica — November 13, 2009 @ 9:30 am

  9. I’ve been to THE WALL several times. I knew several of them as well, but I feel like I know ’em all.

    Did you tear up? I did, every visit.

    God Bless ’em all.

    Comment by Yabu — November 13, 2009 @ 11:40 am

  10. “A trip to The Wall should be mandatory for every American at least once….if for no other reason than to see what freedom costs.

    Comment by RobbieRob — November 13, 2009 @ 9:03 am”
    All I can say is … AMEN!!

    Maria Edi, from Brasil

    Comment by Maria Edi — November 13, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

  11. My first visit to the wall was in the middle of the night. I still can’t even handle the traveling wall, maybe someday.


    Comment by recondo32 — November 13, 2009 @ 5:54 pm

  12. When you first see it, your like “so that’s it”. Then you walk toward it and before you know it, your simply overwhelmed. It reaches you on so many levels. A remarkable memorial. God Bless them all.

    Comment by Gary — November 13, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

  13. I haven’t been to D.C. since I was 13. damn.
    45 years ago. Way past time for a good long visit.

    I’m glad you had a good day there, Jim.
    Thank you for your service.

    Comment by Jean — November 13, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

  14. I’m too young (40 now) to have been a Vietnam Veteran and my service was only 3 years in the CT Army National Guard, but the The Wall has an effect that I’m not sure I have the words to correctly describe. It is peaceful, somber and simple. It is also, to my mind, the best memorial to our fallen soldiers, regardless of the war.
    I remember some of the controversy over the design of the Wall before it was built, many people, especially veterans, wanted a more “conventional” memorial, similar to the ones already in DC. If you haven’t seen the Wall make time to go see it. Washington DC, despite being inhabited by Congress critters, is really worth touring.

    Comment by Michael in CT — November 13, 2009 @ 8:59 pm

  15. The Wall made me cry. I’ll admit it. Just seeing all those names…

    Comment by Laura — November 13, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

  16. Rick,
    Please go, it helps the healing process. Made the trip in 1995 with a buddy of mine still on active duty at Quantico(never could have done it without him).

    Comment by Joe — November 13, 2009 @ 11:42 pm

  17. I had visited the wall years ago and have gazed upon the names of three people I knew. People who also would be the same age as I am now. One was 19 years old when he was struck down in that faraway place. And, like you, Jim, I looked at my own Army experience at that time as the luck of the draw. I too, could have been one of those names. I had received orders for ‘Nam, but they were rescinded. My experience of standing in front of “the wall” was one filled with emotion. I will never forget it.

    Comment by JerseyJerry — November 14, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

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