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Reflections from The Wall...

Posted by Suzanne D on 5/18/02 at 11:24 (084442)

I was able to visit the traveling Vietnam Veterans Wall in a town about an hour from my home late yesterday afternoon. There was a soft rain falling when we arrived which steadily increased. Somehow this seemed appropriate: it did not need to be sunny and bright. It WAS a moving experience.

In my ignorance, I thought the names would be in alphabetical order, so I headed to The Wall without seeking information. Upon seeing the first panel of names, I realized my error but decided to walk the length of The Wall and scan all the names in hopes of finding Brian G.'s friend's name.

I've always been a visual person for whom large numbers didn't completely register. One thousand or 58,000 - they are just big numbers in my mind. But the sight of all those names...Now it made sense to me. You cannot imagine how many Davids there were and how many with the last name Hill. Halfway through I had to admit to myself that I would not find it this way, but I continued to walk slowly to the end. By now the rain was hard, and my family had gone back to the van.

I went down to the information booth and asked for help. A kind lady typed in the name, David A. Hill, and in a few moments handed me a page of printed information. I thought I would just be given the panel number and row where I would find his name. Here was more information than I felt I had the right to know. All at once, the war became intensely personal to me.

He was born 5 years before me and died at 22 - just a year older than my oldest daughter is now. He had only been there 2 months and died in a place I cannot even pronounce.

I could not then go back to the van. I HAD to find his name; it would have been disrespectful not to have done so at that point. So I went back and found it and touched it on the wall.

At that moment, he was every soldier, and I was every American. Next weekend our country celebrates Memorial Day. For me, it came yesterday.

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

JudyS on 5/18/02 at 11:35 (084445)

Suzanne, I visited the Wall in Washington DC some years ago. I was able to locate the one fella from my high school who's name was on it. His sister was in my group of friends. When I saw his name I was completely overwhelmed and that surprised me a great deal.
Your words are very, very good at describing that experience. Thanks for the reminder. And thanks for bringing David Hill in to our hearts.

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

susie c on 5/18/02 at 13:52 (084455)

Nice story. I have had the pleasure of a visit to the memorial in washington. Thanks for sharing your experience. Susie

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

BrianG on 5/18/02 at 21:26 (084525)

Thank you Suzanne, for taking the time to go back and find David's name. I probably should have told you about the book, that shows which panel everyone is on. The wall may not be alphabetical, but it is chronological. David's parents are gettin older now, but they still attend every function in town that the Vetran's office puts on. I believe she is what as known as a Gold Star Mother. Her son was very bright, and not all that athletic, yet he was there. While the rich and politically connected were safely off in the reserves some where. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I would hope every American would try to see The Wall, or it's little brother, during it's travels. Personally, I had 3 medals myself, all gathering dust. When I decided to go to Washington, I dug them out, and left them below David's name. I think they were: National Defense, Vietnam, and Good Conduct medals. Not to easy to remember, it was half a lifetime ago.......

Regards
BrianG

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

Suzanne D on 5/19/02 at 06:29 (084549)

Thank you, Brian, for sharing with us about David so that I might look his name up on the wall. Somehow, it was more meaningful to me that I had to look for awhile and then go back. It's hard to explain, but the searching in itself brought some meaning and understanding...

I am glad to also know of your three medals, and how special that you left them below David's name. While I was there, a woman came with flowers, straight to one name, not walking like I did the entire length, and stood crying softly. I think it was her father's name, but I don't know. I sensed she needed to be alone, so I smiled but did not speak.

I had wondered about David's parents, if they were alive still. If you see them sometime, you may tell them that a first grade teacher in Kentucky found their son's name and honored him in her thoughts. I will remember them in my prayers on Memorial Day.

My best to you...
Suzanne

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

J. King on 5/19/02 at 09:08 (084558)

Brian

I too am a Vietnam Vet. It seems odd that almost all the Vietnam Vets I know have medical problems. Of course, we are all getting older but it seems the vets took a lot of abuse both mentally and physically. Are you a disabled vet? I get 30% and am trying for more. I signed up for the agency orange registry. I got evaluated by a vet center counselor for PTSD. Since the Pf has screwed up my working ability I need all the help I can get. Not to mention other injuries from the Post Office where I worked for 17 years.

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

wendyn on 5/19/02 at 09:11 (084560)

Suzanne, thanks for sharing your story of the wall....it was really moving.

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

BrianG on 5/19/02 at 19:04 (084615)

Nope, not a disabled vet, but who knows what is going on in my body after all these years. I've had PF for about 8 years, I believe it's from work. Too much walking on concrete, tar, and industrial carpet (covering concrete). Unfortuatly I didn't put 2&2 together for a little while. Had I known what this PF would have turned into, you can bet your bottom dollar, my 1st visit to the Pod, would have been during work hours. So, for now, I just wait for SSD to take their sweet time!

BrianG

PS: What are your thoughts about PTSD? Your right, everyone I've met that was in country seems to have some. Yet many thousands more went to Europe in WW2, and I don't think they had the same PTSD numbers. Why??????? I'm thinking it was an ugly, jungle, conflict (not a war?), and not many came back a hero. Many were spit on.

BrianG

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

J. King on 5/19/02 at 20:07 (084619)

Brian G

I think you are right about RVN. It was a dirty war. We were also very young and forgotten about since that time. We were expendable. A lot of people who have PTSD don't know they have it. They just think there lives have gone to hell. The Vet Centers have counselors who can help vets get the facts they need to get the PTSD disability.

John K

Re: one small voice...

Suzanne D on 5/19/02 at 20:56 (084628)

I would like to say that although I am just one small voice, I thank you guys and want you to know that I am so sorry for the treatment you received after coming home from Vietnam. I will be 50 on the 30th of this month, and I have felt badly about this for these many years.

I guess that is why I needed so much to go see the traveling version of The Wall this weekend and why I felt I wanted to write about it here.

That may not help you much, but I wanted you to know what was in my heart.

Re: unites, to make many!

BrianG on 5/20/02 at 21:31 (084739)

Thanks Suzanne, I can tell this experience has been very positive for you. I think I'll print out some of these posts, about going to the wall, for David's parents. They'll be happy to know that one more person cared. I don't know them personally, but I'm sure I can find their address. I hope everyone gets a chance to stop by a cemetery this weekend. In most of the them, the veteran's graves will all be decorated with a small American flag. I go every year, to visit my dad, a WWII vet. I really believe that this is the very best, that the cemerteries will look all year!

Thanks again
BrianG

Re: unites, to make many!

Suzanne D on 5/21/02 at 16:04 (084788)

Yes, it has been a positive experience, Brian. I would be more than pleased if you sent David's mom and dad the posts. If that would bring a small measure of peace to them, then I would be truly gratified!

My father was also a World War II vet. I was impressed as a child at the story of how he joined the army. As the oldest of five children at the time-and one on the way-in a farm family, he had a 'hardship' deferrment, I think it was called. But he said that every time he went to town, he just couldn't hold his head up when so many others his age were in the war. So one day he walked three miles to town and joined. I used to ask him about his experiences, but he never would say much. He would say, 'I don't really remember all that well.' I guess he didn't want to discuss it. But he would remark when someone had a flag on their casket that he thought that was an honor, so when he died, we made sure the flag was there.

I will remember your dad as I remember mine on this Memorial Day.

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

JudyS on 5/18/02 at 11:35 (084445)

Suzanne, I visited the Wall in Washington DC some years ago. I was able to locate the one fella from my high school who's name was on it. His sister was in my group of friends. When I saw his name I was completely overwhelmed and that surprised me a great deal.
Your words are very, very good at describing that experience. Thanks for the reminder. And thanks for bringing David Hill in to our hearts.

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

susie c on 5/18/02 at 13:52 (084455)

Nice story. I have had the pleasure of a visit to the memorial in washington. Thanks for sharing your experience. Susie

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

BrianG on 5/18/02 at 21:26 (084525)

Thank you Suzanne, for taking the time to go back and find David's name. I probably should have told you about the book, that shows which panel everyone is on. The wall may not be alphabetical, but it is chronological. David's parents are gettin older now, but they still attend every function in town that the Vetran's office puts on. I believe she is what as known as a Gold Star Mother. Her son was very bright, and not all that athletic, yet he was there. While the rich and politically connected were safely off in the reserves some where. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I would hope every American would try to see The Wall, or it's little brother, during it's travels. Personally, I had 3 medals myself, all gathering dust. When I decided to go to Washington, I dug them out, and left them below David's name. I think they were: National Defense, Vietnam, and Good Conduct medals. Not to easy to remember, it was half a lifetime ago.......

Regards
BrianG

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

Suzanne D on 5/19/02 at 06:29 (084549)

Thank you, Brian, for sharing with us about David so that I might look his name up on the wall. Somehow, it was more meaningful to me that I had to look for awhile and then go back. It's hard to explain, but the searching in itself brought some meaning and understanding...

I am glad to also know of your three medals, and how special that you left them below David's name. While I was there, a woman came with flowers, straight to one name, not walking like I did the entire length, and stood crying softly. I think it was her father's name, but I don't know. I sensed she needed to be alone, so I smiled but did not speak.

I had wondered about David's parents, if they were alive still. If you see them sometime, you may tell them that a first grade teacher in Kentucky found their son's name and honored him in her thoughts. I will remember them in my prayers on Memorial Day.

My best to you...
Suzanne

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

J. King on 5/19/02 at 09:08 (084558)

Brian

I too am a Vietnam Vet. It seems odd that almost all the Vietnam Vets I know have medical problems. Of course, we are all getting older but it seems the vets took a lot of abuse both mentally and physically. Are you a disabled vet? I get 30% and am trying for more. I signed up for the agency orange registry. I got evaluated by a vet center counselor for PTSD. Since the Pf has screwed up my working ability I need all the help I can get. Not to mention other injuries from the Post Office where I worked for 17 years.

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

wendyn on 5/19/02 at 09:11 (084560)

Suzanne, thanks for sharing your story of the wall....it was really moving.

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

BrianG on 5/19/02 at 19:04 (084615)

Nope, not a disabled vet, but who knows what is going on in my body after all these years. I've had PF for about 8 years, I believe it's from work. Too much walking on concrete, tar, and industrial carpet (covering concrete). Unfortuatly I didn't put 2&2 together for a little while. Had I known what this PF would have turned into, you can bet your bottom dollar, my 1st visit to the Pod, would have been during work hours. So, for now, I just wait for SSD to take their sweet time!

BrianG

PS: What are your thoughts about PTSD? Your right, everyone I've met that was in country seems to have some. Yet many thousands more went to Europe in WW2, and I don't think they had the same PTSD numbers. Why??????? I'm thinking it was an ugly, jungle, conflict (not a war?), and not many came back a hero. Many were spit on.

BrianG

Re: Reflections from The Wall...

J. King on 5/19/02 at 20:07 (084619)

Brian G

I think you are right about RVN. It was a dirty war. We were also very young and forgotten about since that time. We were expendable. A lot of people who have PTSD don't know they have it. They just think there lives have gone to hell. The Vet Centers have counselors who can help vets get the facts they need to get the PTSD disability.

John K

Re: one small voice...

Suzanne D on 5/19/02 at 20:56 (084628)

I would like to say that although I am just one small voice, I thank you guys and want you to know that I am so sorry for the treatment you received after coming home from Vietnam. I will be 50 on the 30th of this month, and I have felt badly about this for these many years.

I guess that is why I needed so much to go see the traveling version of The Wall this weekend and why I felt I wanted to write about it here.

That may not help you much, but I wanted you to know what was in my heart.

Re: unites, to make many!

BrianG on 5/20/02 at 21:31 (084739)

Thanks Suzanne, I can tell this experience has been very positive for you. I think I'll print out some of these posts, about going to the wall, for David's parents. They'll be happy to know that one more person cared. I don't know them personally, but I'm sure I can find their address. I hope everyone gets a chance to stop by a cemetery this weekend. In most of the them, the veteran's graves will all be decorated with a small American flag. I go every year, to visit my dad, a WWII vet. I really believe that this is the very best, that the cemerteries will look all year!

Thanks again
BrianG

Re: unites, to make many!

Suzanne D on 5/21/02 at 16:04 (084788)

Yes, it has been a positive experience, Brian. I would be more than pleased if you sent David's mom and dad the posts. If that would bring a small measure of peace to them, then I would be truly gratified!

My father was also a World War II vet. I was impressed as a child at the story of how he joined the army. As the oldest of five children at the time-and one on the way-in a farm family, he had a 'hardship' deferrment, I think it was called. But he said that every time he went to town, he just couldn't hold his head up when so many others his age were in the war. So one day he walked three miles to town and joined. I used to ask him about his experiences, but he never would say much. He would say, 'I don't really remember all that well.' I guess he didn't want to discuss it. But he would remark when someone had a flag on their casket that he thought that was an honor, so when he died, we made sure the flag was there.

I will remember your dad as I remember mine on this Memorial Day.