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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

VietNam Veterans' Memorial Wall

One of the things I would like to do is visit the VietNam Veterans' Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. I am both drawn to go and full of dread at how emotional experience it will be.

Interestingly, I never knew any one whose name appears on the memorial. Also, I know of no family that have a family member memorialized on this striking monument.

When is come to war dead I get very emotional. I get teary eyed just reading about the Memorial to the 58.178 soldiers who names are etched in the granite.

I occasionally visit some online sites on it and before long I am grieving over some tale of a soldier losing his life. These emotions have always been just below the surface in me. I can remember while at university sitting and reading the list of soldiers who died in WWI and WWII from the community, Waterloo, Ontario. breaking down and crying. I knew none of them nor anyone who died in either of those wars. The feeling is one of the dreadful futility of their deaths: the waste, the pain for those left behind, the future's never accomplished, the useless finality of it all.

I am a religious pacifist and am opposed to war as a way of resolving disputes under virtually all circumstances . The years I lived in the United States, I was very active in opposing the Vietnam War. My emotional commitment to this was deep. In a way, I am a "Veteran " of the war, the Anti-War Campaign. It certainly has left a scar on my soul. And now, there is the Iraq and the Afghanistan Wars. Did we learn nothing?

Why dwell on the war dead? For me, who prides himself on his cool reserve, it puts me in touch with my emotional self, like nothing else. I have officiated at friends' funerals and partcipated in the burial of family members with much contained grief and yet over the death of a stranger soldier I rapidly turn to mush. I must admit it feel good afterwards, being emotional. It leaves me talking to myself.. . . . . ".to what end. . . . what is the purpose for all this human waste?"

I find no comfort in all the patriot rationale of "heroic sacrifice": honour, duty, answering the Nation's call, died so we might be free, ad nauseum. The real heroes of war are those who avoid leading a Nation to war and those who refuse to participate in a illegal and immoral war. All others are victums.

"We remember you were all once loved and full of vitality like a flower"

A night visit to the wall must be special, focused as you are embraced my the cool of the night.

What do children make of so many deaths in a distant war.

What got me thinking about the VietNam Memorial wall was a new website you can visit. It is one where if you knew of someone whose name appears you can locate it and add some personal remembrances of the person, which others can read. (This site is a portal to so much more, through it you can access historic documents.)

This is the website, I have been visiting up to this point


At 12:50 p.m., Blogger Loretta said...

I have a very hard time showing emotion in front of anyone, but if I were at "The Wall" I would be bawling like a baby.

Both my GGrandfathers served in the civil war and I feel the same way when I read about it. The stories of the young men that gave so much are heart breaking.I can't read long before crying over them. My ggrandfather on my blog was captured and held POW for several months. I wonder what it was like, not only for him but his wife left at home with several small children.

I am going to check out this web site you posted.


At 1:32 p.m., Blogger possum said...

7th time is the charm! I think it is a conspiracy - "they" won't let me comment on your blog! Probably because we think too much alike and that could be dangerous! As a Buddhist-Unitarian, I, too, am opposed to war in any form, and it takes so many different forms, doesn't it? My weekly Sunday letter starts off with the Body Count at the top of the page - not just the USA's but also Iraqi's. I also include the current wounded count, but the reality is - we are all wounded, just in different ways. Most wounded is the USA itself, its name, and everything we once stood for. Bush and Cheney have destroyed what we had which admittedly has been dwindling for years. Sad. So sad.
My dad was in Nam, as a diplomat, I was stateside in college -protesting. My step mother and brother were part of the Great Saigon evacuation. Truth is, we had no business being there in the first place.
Last week-end, I stood at a corner on the main highway here with my sign as a group of us "celebrated" 5 years of bloody stupidity and greed. Support our troops - BRING THEM HOME!
And on the brighter side of life, I am enjoying your animals, cats, Gage, and the Runt. You haven't named him yet???? Maybe you should have a Runt naming contest????? My suggestion is SRP. Pronounced Sir P or just Surp. Stands for Spoiled Rotten PIG! Not meaning to imply that he might be spoiled, ya know... but just in case it ever happens.....
And if you ever get to DC, let me know - I am just a few hours away! C'mon down!

At 11:56 p.m., Blogger Alyssa said...

Tossing - I've never seen the Wall but I'm sure it would be overwhelming. I agree completely with your stand on war - it never seems to solve anything. Looking back into ancient history and all the way to the present I would say "no" we haven't learned a thing....

At 12:27 a.m., Blogger Mary said...


I have been to the Wall more than once and each time it is a unique experience. Once when I was there, a mother was laying flowers at the foot of the Wall in remembrance of her son. That was a very emotional experience.

I know no one whose name is on the Wall yet as I stand there and read the names, I feel connected. The names stand for someone who gave their lives for what cause?

If you ever have the chance, please do go and visit. It is an experience like no other. I would return again and again to pay my respects to those whose names appear there.

Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting on Earth Hour. I too could live without electricity because I was brought up without it. However, since my job is connected with the Internet, it would prove to be difficult. I'm not sure that everyone would fare as well as us old timers who have experienced it.

Thanks also for the autism link. I found it very interesting.


At 12:40 p.m., Blogger Janet said...

Like you, I know no one who is on the wall, but my uncle served in Vietnam and he knows some. I've never asked. I agree, we'll never learn. I had numerous ancestors in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War (both sides). It seems that it isn't so much a matter of winning, as who decides to give up first. How many have to die before it's OK to give up?

At 8:22 a.m., Blogger Old Wom Tigley said...

Another very nice thoughful and moving post.. I do enjoy the mix of post I read here.. and of course the music...
I am lucky with the blue land rover.. I have had it 3 years now.. it belongs to my friend 'Leaky Roof' and was used for shunting in his yard, and to go out on the odd breakdown. The trouble was if it was left in his yard at night it would be smashed by vandels or pushed into the canal. It as been in the canal twice that I know of. I get to run it about, and if he needs it he phones me or calls around to use it and leaves me something else. He dose all the work and reairs and would throw me in the canal if I offered him money. All this happened because I took my other Land Rover to his garage to get it fixed and we hit it off right away. I call down twice three times a week when I can, make a mug of tea and we talk, putting the world to right as men do. As friends go I could not ask for better.. His yard is a great place to look around as well... he as bit of land rovers dating back to the 1950s, He as now got to retirement age and spends his time between the yard and his cottage in Scotland.. I hope he lives many years to enjoy it.

All the very best to you

At 2:43 p.m., Blogger Rosie said...

I get very emotional about this too. I think moreso when I have visited historic battlefields. There is a lingering essence there. I felt it very strongly in Normandy.

I remember when they aired the bombing of Afghanistan weeping. I cry anytime I see that sort of thing. I can't help but think, you know, somebody's mother is down there. Or brother or sister or lover.

At 10:32 p.m., Blogger KGMom said...

I live about 2 hrs. north of DC, but for the longest time, I put off visiting the Wall. Vietnaw is my generation's war, and I knew several young men who went there and fought; 2 who did not come home.
I finally worked up the courage to visit the Wall. I was in DC for a meeting, and walked there from the Mayflower Hotel (that is quite a distance, if you know DC). I had seen many photos so I had a good idea what I would see.
What I did not anticipate is the way the black gash of wall looks like a wound in the earth. So appropriate. Then of course the polished marble which reflects is just stunning.
I did look up the name of my two friends--Larry and Jay. I stood for a long time just touching the names--as if somehow that put me in touch with these young men again.
Thanks for reminding people of the dreadful sacrifices made in war.

At 3:47 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

You call brave young men who were blindly led into a war "A waste"??; "you were a veteran of that war"?? You came to my nation to protest something that was none of your business. The young brave men who died in that war were the finest young men america had, they didn't run to Canada like so many cowards did. The fact that they died in a war that "was or was not" proper is none of your business. America doesn't have to justify it's self to you.
How dare you say you "are a veteran of that war", I watched my friends and relatives die, brave young men following orders; you were one of the ones who gave aid and comfort to the enemy by marching in the streets of America, and this isn't even your nation. There is a saying "Nam Vets Aren't Fonda Jane", let me go one further, and say "you are a blow hard and a disgrace". Right or wrong I was taught to stand and fight when my nation called, I did just that. I later stood and fought in the streets of America; my home land; as a Law Enforcement Officer so COWARDS like you could shoot your mouths off, and then have someone to come , and fight for you when trouble came around. You are a loud mouth, blow hard, lying coward.
I am more than willing to discuss this with you face to face, any time, any place. signed: A Vet.


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