On July 4th weekend, a traveling Vietnam Wall was set up at Purdue North Central. The photos shown here were taken at 7:00 a.m. and preparations were being made for the expected throngs of people who would stop by later…some out of curiosity, some who were Vietnam vets (me), some who were families of (click below to see the rest of the story and more photos)
Vietnam vets and others who were just looking to pass the time. The Wall is powerful in its simplicity. So many lives lost (over 58,000) and so many families touched by the many years of our participation in South East Asia. This country was changed, and sadly, lessons from the past continue to be ignored by those in charge. The bronze colored tags in the pictures below record the names of those who have given their lives in the mid-East wars that we are still involved in.
Looking back (41 years for me), it has been debated by greater scholars than myself as to why we were in Vietnam, and should we have been there. Many of those whose names that are on the Wall were drafted and had no choice to be there. Speaking strictly for myself, at the time a naive and innocent boy, I chose to enter the Army. Going to Vietnam was the natural progression of the times and I went proudly. I did spend my time in Vietnam as a servant of this great nation and I did believe we should have been there. I saw the poverty and pain and loss…the corruption and the fight of brother against brother. The men I spent time with were decent and honorable and had a cause that was beyond politics. We were still an innocent nation back then with the desire to right the wrongs of the world.
All those names…all those sons and brothers, fathers and uncles, boyfriends and grandfathers did their duty as determined by their government. Whether we should have been there or not, all those beautiful people gave their lives for freedom. They were no different than WWI vets, or WWII vets, or any vets of any wars. They had a job to do, and paid the ultimate price in doing that job. Today’s generation still is effected by that war…hell, by any war. Isn’t it sad that the common man and common woman would like to live in peace and enjoy a 4th of July cookout but governments get locked into power struggles? Who”s the biggest, and baddest, and most powerful? If they would only use the available resources of brain-power, money, and caring hearts, there really could be peace and prosperity on the entire planet.
I am dreaming, but seeing the names of 58,000 plus on a black wall is both humbling and energizing. Seeing the name of just one of your best friends on a wall of death is also sobering. Go ahead, pick any of your friends…and of your relatives…even any of your enemies…would you want to be the one responsible for putting their name on a future wall? I believe the best thing that I can do each day is to be the best me that I am able to be. I want to model being a good and loving husband, and father…employee and boss. Eventually, we will all have our names on a wall, or a piece of granite or bronze, and people will visit our place of remembrance and tell others of the legacy we built for ourselves. For each and every soldier on that Wall, I thank you. Your life was taken too soon, and the world is a sadder place because you are not here to live and to love and to cherish all that is America. God bless you and your families from one simple Vietnam vet.
(this article is strictly the opinion of the author)