On War

The typeface was smaller than I expected.

But then it would have to be.

I visited Washington D.C. for the first time this morning. I took the two
hours allotted by my parking meter to walk up and down “the mall” – the area
between the Capitol building and the Lincoln Memorial. I checked out the usual
touristy things along the way, of course.

Vietnam Memorial

But the most difficult was “the wall”.

There’s really no reason for me to have any particular attachment to the
Vietnam War. It was over, really, before I had to worry about it. I didn’t know
anyone who had gone, and I didn’t lose any friends or family to it.

Vietnam Memorial Names

And yet.

Maybe it was the news (NBC’s “Huntley/Brinkley Report” at the time) that we
watched regularly that stuck in my mind. Each night news of a handful of
American soldiers killed was contrasted with thousands of enemy casualties.
With footage. In black and white.

Apparently all those hand-full’s added up.

And that’s what struck me this morning.

There were a lot of names on that wall. The type face was smaller
than I was expecting, and the wall itself larger. It had to be to hold all
those names.

58,253 names.

58,253 people.

Vietnam Memorial Birthday Card

The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, or
simply “The Wall”, is an emotional place for many. Gifts and remembrances are
left regularly. The image here is of a birthday card – presumably left for one
of the wall honoree’s. Elsewhere was a program for an upcoming 40th high school

The Wall is still contemporary. Visitors arrive every day that knew
the people that those names represent. Perhaps in 20 or 40 years the impact of
The Wall will change – much like memorials for earlier wars are starting to
represent abstract events more than specific people we knew and loved.

But for now, it’s real, and it’s tangible.

And perhaps because these names were close to being my contemporaries, I
feel it.

Many of the memorials, in fact many of the most striking memorials, in
Washington D.C., and elsewhere, are about war. That’s a sad reflection on

And yet, I do believe we need these memorials, and that we each need to
visit them and understand what they represent while the people those memorials
honor are our contemporaries.

Maybe building them and seeing them and feeling them will move us a little
closer to not needing them any more.

I can dream.

2 thoughts on “On War”

  1. When you say “us , building , seeing , feeling”, how is that going to change the minds of the people that want to destroy this country ? Those individuals scoff at your dream .

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