National War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“IN HONOR OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES WHO SERVED IN THE VIETNAM WAR. THE NAMES OF THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES AND OF THOSE WHO REMAIN MISSING ARE INSCRIBED IN THE ORDER THEY WERE TAKEN FROM US.”
Preamble of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
2003 Moving Wall Parade in West Richland, WA
On November 9, 2003, I had the opportunity to visit ‘The Moving Wall’ in West Richland, WA. It is a half -size replica of the Washington, DC Vietnam Veterans Memorial and has been touring the country for more than twenty years.
Some of the fallen soldiers (whose names are printed on the wall) were from my hometown in Iowa and many of them, I served with in Vietnam while with Charlie Troop 1/9th, 1st Air Cavalry Division.
Sgt Gregory Peffer, a Blues platoon sergeant, was one of the names of which I was searching. I was no longer with the Blues the day Greg paid the ultimate sacrifice but had the honor to serve with him months before. He was a short-timer when he went out that day, but felt a duty to be with his men.
Viewing ‘The Moving Wall’ that afternoon proved to be emotional for me as well as many others that attended the event…
10 responses to “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial”
“The Wall” is one of the most moving War Memorials ever designed . To those of us who served in Vietnam, it is without a doubt the “most” moving War Memorial ever designed. Long after we are gone, those on “The Wall” will live on forever, as they should. God bless them all.
I hope you’re having a great Memorial Day Weekend!
Your comments are so true and much appreciated…
Just some thought on Memorial Day.
Patriotism and Politics
On this most sacred of federal holidays, Memorial Day, we take time to honor “The Fallen” of all of our wars. It is a day set aside to pay tribute to those who had made “ The Supreme Sacrifice”, not to recreate or shop.
In May of 1868, General John Logan, General of the Grand Army of the Republic, placed flowers at the graves of both Union and confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. As one would expect, this act was not without controversy. By 1890, this ceremony was followed by all Northern states, but met with resistance from the Southern states. Whatever would we do if we could not politicize things of this nature? Memorial Day was not to be about division, but rather reconciliation.
For many a year to follow, May 30 was recognized as “Decoration Day.” In 1971 Congress passed the National Holiday Act, bringing us the three-day weekend and the out door barbecue. My point here is not to give a history lesson, but to discuss “Patriotism” and what exactly do we believe constitutes it.
On this day, a most sacred day for us combat veterans, I involuntarily revisit the past. Years ago, in Vietnam, 1966 to be exact, a dear friend of mine, a Sergeant Bishop and I engaged in a heated argument over which of the two of us were more patriotic; Bishop, a volunteer or myself, a draftee. What a stupid argument. Not only was it a dumb thing to argue about but also to make it even more ridiculous was the fact that we had it out in the jungle for all of mankind, animals, insects, snakes, God, and the VC to hear.
Since those days of old, Bishop and I have shared many a laugh in regard to said argument. As a draftee, I obviously was the true patriot. After all, I could have gotten a deferment or gone to Canada. I didn’t, I was there in the Nam. How much more patriotic than that can you get? He on the other hand wanted to be there. Temporary insanity I guess. Case closed.
I KID! Honestly. How ridiculous of a conclusion could that be? Which brings me to my point. The things I see and hear by the politicians and pundits on television and radio lead me to believe that some of these people think they have a lock on the true definition of patriotism. This is nothing more than pure politics and stupidity and to that I say “BS”.
Patriotism should be measured by a different yardstick than anything imperical. It is too complicated and emotional of an issue emotional to defined in a simplistic term. Inevitably patriotism becomes a political issue.
Those who served prison time for their anti-war beliefs were as patriotic as any one who got a questionable medical or student deferment. I would argue that they were even more patriotic. They believed that to participate in war was wrong for America and were willing to pay a price for it. Many a citizen in the Vietnam-era thought of them as cowards. How could that be more cowardly than a self-serving deferment on the guise of an asthmatic condition or another year of school? You hear what I’m saying?
On a certain day in Vietnam, as Bishop and I lay there ducking hostile machine-gun fire, we shared a laugh about that patriotism argument that we had. We concluded that we were both patriotic, or stupid, or maybe both.
So in conclusion, I’d say that patriotism comes in many a form. Obviously not every one who received a deferment for whatever reason was trying to beat the system, though many were. Patriotism can be and is expressed in many ways. No one has a lock on patriotism or its definition. Beware of charlatans who define patriotism in a simplistic way. Let us not politicize this issue or be so quick to judge.
My sister was visiting The Wall three years ago. I only saw her pics, but It was exciting for me.
Perhaps some day…
I would also like to visit the Memorial in D.C. someday…
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is seeking photos of our heroes listed on The Wall. Please help spread the word so that we can honor all 58,267 service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice. http://ow.ly/2Z70v The Education Center at the Wall will be the next stop in the healing process for our remaining Vietnam Vets and it will be the first stop in the learning process for generations to come. Without a direct connection to the history, those born after the Vietnam War will learn about the time and place before experiencing the vastness and reflection of The Wall. Visit http://www.buildthecenter.org to learn more.
Is it just me, am I the only one the Vietnam Veterans Memorial angers? I have never gotten over how the American people treated us when we returned. I for one felt I had served a worthy purpose, nearly sacrificing my life on several occasions, only to return home to ridicule. And how did it heal all the harm it did to the parents and loved ones of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice? Sorry, it has never left me and no memorial can cure those memories.
Welcome Home Ron…
I believe your anger is totally just. I also believe that this is just one of the many emotions we take away from this Memorial. I too am angry, but when I visit the Wall I also feel in communion with those represented on this Memorial and of their loved ones, their friends and all who were left un-whole by this war.
To me, The Wall is my church. I find it to be a spiritual experience. The emotions inside of me erupt like a volcano. I feel anger, loss, sorrow and at the same time a feeling of pride to have served with such a wonderful cast of characters.
For me, be it good or bad,Vietnam was the pivitol experience of my life. At The wall, I am able, emotionally that is, to talk to those who have made the “Supreme” sacrifice. It would not be possible for me to visit each and every grave site so in a sense, I feel that at The Wall I am able to pay my respects to each and every one of those who were not as fortunate as I.
I understand your anger. It makes sense to me. I deal with anger on a daily basis but I see the Memorial as “ours,” the Fallen, the loved ones and those who participated. Ours, not those who were apathetic or who ridiculed. Just ours.
I guess it’s just us “vets” who get it. I remember watching Platoon on a visit to Boston quite some time after my return. I heard an audience member gaspe as whispered it couldn’t have been that bad. No clue and I told them that! I didn’t have nearly as bad as many but it affected me in so many ways. Especially the coming home.