In 1993 I was an exchange student to Costa Rica. During those weeks I learned a lot; about Latin America, about The United States, and about myself. Before I even boarded the plane to CR, I was already a changed person. That change occurred in our briefing in DC, we went on a few “field trips” (they called them life missions) and each of them was amazing but for me none was moving and changing than the Vietnam Memorial Wall. I remember so well walking from the hustle and bustle of Washington into the area and a coolness came over me – I think it came from the silence, there were thousands of people there and yes I could hear my feet stepping lightly down, I could hear the breath expelling from me, I could hear the sadness. I looked at that wall, I saw the names, I saw my own reflection. I saw people I was with find their loved ones names and take a rubbing – all they had left of them was a piece of paper and a name, it just wasn’t enough. I left that memorial a different person than the one who went in, before I didn’t understand how many people had died for my freedom and after that I had a closer grasp on it. Of everything I experienced on this trip this is one thing I will always remember
Fast forward 15 years and Wilmington was hosting the Moving Wall and I debated if I was going to go, I had my memories and what if it disrespected them? What if it didn’t honor those who were now “my guys”? What if I had changed again and it just didn’t move me?
Well this is the weekend, September 18 – 22 the Wall will be on the common. This morning I got up early and did my workout and set off to the see the exhibit, it was amazing! It was just right… I parked a bit away and walked up and realized that my idea of going early so nobody would be there had a flaw, the high school is attached to the common and the students were there in force. At first sight I was so disappointed that I wasn’t going to get the wall to myself and then I realized something. The sound, well there wasn’t any. The students were silent as the looked at the wall, there was no games, no laughter, no sideline conversations, no cell phones, nothing – and on many of those faces I saw it happening (no it wasn’t happening in DC but in Wilmington) they were changing, their lives were changing right there. For them September 19, 2008 is a day that they will never forget…
Across the street in the 4th of July Building there is a small exhibit of art and photos by Vietnam Vets. Photos taken while they were there and paintings of their memories – it amazes me the light and happiness these paintings express – this is not doom and gloom, dire and death, THIS is life after hell – a life fought for is a life worth living.
The the photo and art exhibit their were a # of photos of the Vietnamese and all of them taken in a good light not at all in a "we want to kill you" attitude
This poem is amazing I am not sure if you can read it - but I wish it said who the author was
This is a photo of a Buddhist cemetary
The layout of all the artwork - it was amazing
Friends - and so much more
I have almost this exact photo of me from 1993
A reminder of respect
How long it stretches
So beautifully done
The shirt of a local lost - sad
Those aren't just names, they are people who died for what their government told them to fight for. Whether you believe in Vietnam or wars in general you have to be moved by these people who did what they were ordered to do to the best of their abilities!
What a backdrop