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. http://www.footnote.com/ (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 http://thewall-usa.com/