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Midvale School for the Gifted Alumni Association

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Honoring Soldiers

This morning, the local news agencies were all reporting that the remains of two Vietnam era Marines from Massachusetts were identified and will be returned to their families. In a related story, the Moving Wall is making a local stop, an eerie coincidence. After seeing these stories, and thinking about our current military situation, I'm remembering my own trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day in April. I was actually in DC to see Bob Mould, and my friend and I decided to see the sights. DC's white marble is pretty impressive, and on this day, it was crawling with people. Late in the afternoon, we stepped off the bus near the Lincoln Memorial and walked down the mall to the the Wall.

The first thing you notice is how quiet it is.

Truly, the quietest place in Washington. We're in the middle of the National Mall, a few hundred yards from Lincoln, and there was hardly a sound. Before stepping onto the walkway, I called my mother.

"Who am I looking for?" She knew exactly where I was, and immediately rattled off three names and years of death. "What's it like?" she whispered.
"Quiet, Mom. So quiet."

We walked down the path, looking at all the panels, and the amount of names was completely disorienting. After struggling and squinting for about 20 minutes, we turned to ask one of the vets that hang out there. That's one of the MANY touching things about this memorial, there are these vets, who hang out there with directories of names of dead soldiers, and they'll help you find your loved one. The names are listed with panel numbers, and the panel numbers are discretely carved in the black marble near the bottom. After talking with the vet, we had our panel numbers, and quickly found my parents' friends. I took pictures for them, which I will not post. We spent a few minutes more, in silence, taking in the quiet.

Vietnam Veterans MemorialIt's a beautiful memorial, rising slowly out of a small knoll at the side of the mall, plateauing, then sloping back into the earth. The polished black stone reflects the people who come to pay their respects. Even today, there are men and women there leaving roses, letters, softly crying. But the really stunning piece of this memorial is the inexplicable quiet that surrounds it. It makes you believe you are alone there in your grief, paying your respects as you would at an actual gravesite. It's a powerful piece of land, in an area surrounded with power. The Wall channels its own respect.

So, when I hear of soldiers dying in Iraq, and of people protesting their funerals, I am reminded of the historical significance of this wall, and what our country went through to have these men and women recognized. I think the one fortunate thing about our recent war, which I do not support in any way, shape, or form, is that we currently have no issues giving the soldiers their due. They deserve it.

2 Comments:

Blogger Easy said...

Amen

8:05 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Its a beautiful place isnt it?
(Michele sent me)

3:14 PM  

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