Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Visit to the Vietnam War Memorial

During our trip back east two weeks ago, one of the many places I wanted to visit was the Vietnam Memorial called the Wall. I attended college from 1967 to 1971 which was during the time of this war. I vividly remember all of the protests and the anger that was pervasive in our country during that time.

I was trying to explain all of this to Cameron. It is so hard to explain to a ten year old the devastation of war and the difference between World War II and Vietnam.

Although ASU was mild compared to universities like Stanford, University of Wisconsin, and University of California/Berkley, I remember the protests that went on at ASU. Probably the scariest time was when the students in Ohio were killed by the National Guard causing riots on university campuses all ocross the United States.

I tried to explain to him how I personally felt about the Vietnam War. I was against it, but always felt so badly for how the soldiers were treated when they came home by the people in this country. I believe that our country learned a valuable lesson about how awful we treated our veterans.

There were also several young men from Douglas who I knew who were drafted during that time. Nine young men from Douglas were killed during this war and I knew most of them. I went to school from kindergarten through high school with some of them.

So visiting "The Wall" was something I wanted to do to remember that time in our history and the young men that I knew who died in Vietnam. One of my favorite children's books is "The Wall" by Eve Bunting. It tells the story of this Wall to children in a very heartfelt way. Children's books can often capture moments in time through the use of pictures and words that are simplistic, yet profound. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.

I found this poem on the website for the Vietnam War Memorial. It truly made me think about the cost of war to our nation and those troubled times more than 40 years ago.

"If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own.

And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.

7 remarks:

Anonymous said...

Sheila, during the Viet Nam War time, I was flying for United Air Lines. it seemed that no matter where I flew, there was always a soilder with a brown arm band on my flight escorting a casket with the body of a soilder KIA home to his family. When we landed, I watched from the window of the plane as the casket was taken off, it was a very sad time. That soilder who was the escort was right down where the casket came off the plane. He then had to face the family. All I could think about was what that poor family must be going through, their saddness & heartache. Your nice tribute brought back my experiences of the war. Thanks.

Janice Ewbank said...

In my 3rd grade classroom, I always presented a Reading Rainbow video which included the children's story, "The Wall." I tied this into a unit which included a literature study of "Sodako's Story," as well. This always led to rich discussions between my students regarding the concepts of war and peace, and hate and love. I've always wanted to visit the Vietnam Memorial. Thank you for sharing!

velvet brick said...

Well, I lived in Ohio during those days...and my dad did a tour of duty in Vietnam. I remember the night before he left...I poured my piggy bank coins into a baggie and and shoved them down inside his duffle bag so that he would have some money if he needed to buy something over there. I was 12. It was a long year and it messed him up even worse mentally. When it finally ended, I wrote President Nixon a 'thank you' letter.

The Wall is a beautiful, reverant tribute to a brutal, brutal time in our nation's history. For some reason, the universe had this be a part of our fabric. Maybe, just maybe...lessons were learned on the backs of so many brave men and women that will never be forgotten. In so many ways... we remember.

Martha said...

We got to visit the Vietnam Memorial several years ago now, but I can still feel the impact it had on me, seeing all those names, knowing each one was a life ended too soon. I read The Wall to my class each year around Veteran's Day and show them pictures. Because of video games and movies, too many of our children have a glorified vision of war.

Anonymous said...

Tom, the girls and I went to The Wall many years ago. It was quite an emotional visit for all of us, especially Tom who found names of a couple of his Vietnam friends and his fraternity brothers from A.S.U. on The Wall. Tom explained to the girls, just like you did Cameron, what a devastating war Vietnam was for all of us and so many families. I really think it put the meaning of war in perspective for the girls and know it will for Cameron also. He has indeed had a learning summer this year. One he will never forget.

Anonymous said...

There was a movie called Taking Chance on HBO a few months ago with Kevin Bacon. It was about a soldier escorting a fallen soldier home. This time the soldier died in the Iraq War, but it was the same emotional experience, I'm sure, that Marion had, just a different war. How difficult it must have been for her to see all this. Tom doesn't speak of Vietnam much anymore but he lost buddies over there and he does bring up their names now and then. Joe, my brother, was one of the soldiers who had to tell families their boy had been killed. He didn't have that duty very long, but it must have been hard on him also. We all have our stories, don't we.

N-Search of Peace! said...

The time so long ago, I stood in front of and in reflection of, this massive piece of God-stone. With carved letters of loved ones lost, I had tears
all the way down my rosy colored cheeks.
I do once again...

Love and peaceful blessings...