Wednesday, November 13, 2013
NOVEMBER 13 = Vietnam Memorial Wall Opens
" It was as if a common emotion held back in so many private corners was all at once coming out into the sunlight. I cried too, more than once…As I stood in front of the polished granite I saw the names, but I also saw my own reflection. It fell across the names like a ghost. “Why me, lord?” we asked ourselves in Vietnam. It was a question that came back as I stood there: “why them?” "
- William Broyles Jr. on his first impressions of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
The Vietnam Memorial Wall
The Vietnam Memorial Wall opened on today's date - November 13 in 1982. The Vietnam War had been a truly harrowing experience for America. We had been a nation who in Patton's famous words had never and would never lose a war. When the general said that in the 1940's it was true. But then came Korea. In that war, which was called a "police action", the nation got her first taste of war fought to a political standoff. No Declaration, no Peace Treaty, no glorious parade of the returning victorious
The Controversy Over the Vietnam Memorial Wall
Unfortunately for the men and women who went to the war, and who had bravely fought, or otherwise been involved - whether in support or medical units, the war had indeed been a lot worse, and they couldn't forget it. And nor should they have had to forget it. But to many of them, it seemed that they had been forgotten. The war in which they had sacrificed so very much had indeed been controversial, and in the end very unpopular. But the service people who had done their duty and gone to serve were hardly to blame for that. Nevertheless, they encountered apathy, turned heads and in many cases outright hostility if they appeared in public in uniform. Many Vietnam vets spoke of being spat upon, and being called "baby killer". Happily, with the passing of time this public attitude began to change. Awareness of the Vietnam Veterans, the sacrifices they made, and the difficulties they faced began to spread. And eventually plans for a memorial to them were begun.
The Choice of Maya Lin
"The Wall" Becomes a Place for Healing
The Mementos Left at "The Wall"
On a piece of paper with the familiar three pointed peace sign:
"Dear Ralph, I'd like you to know that you are well remembered. I don't (remember) you well, but I am very close with you. Your buddies didn't let you down they still love you. I remember you
with honor and bravery."
On a postal service routing slip:
"I was with you and I hope I made a difference. Twenty five years later my heart is still empty and broken. God how I miss you.
- Frank W. Spehr, Sgt., USMC, 2169323."
On a paper lunch bag:
"Dear Mr. Kerry, Sorry this is so sloppy. I'm on a bus for a field trip to Washington D.C. I noticed that your birthday is on the same day as mine. You were born on March 14, 1947, but I'm sure you already know that. I was born on March 14, 1978. I will be sure to celebrate yours as well as my birthday on that day. I will pray for you and perhaps I will meet you in heaven some day. I will wait until then. On March 14 every year I will celebrate you. I will keep you in my prayers.
Love in Christ, Becca Raub."
On a card with A Vietnam Service Ribbon attached:
"If you want to know about the women and how good they were, don't waste your time reading books.... just ask the men.
- Jeff Kanner, USMC Vietnam, 12/66 - 12/67."
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- Michael Sofarelli
Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006.