The Wall was controversial as was the war itself, but the Vietnam Veterans memorial is a powerful image that draws millions of visitors each year to Washington, DC.
In fact, replicas of The Wall now travel the country, and can be seen as part of other exhibitions.
The Wall website has this poignant image and quote:
“If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own.
And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.”
Major Michael Davis O’Donnell
1 January 1970
Dak To, Vietnam
Listed as KIA February 7, 1978
We have visited both portable replicas and The Wall itself, located near the Lincoln Memorial. It will be hard to forget, because just a few yards from where we stood, a woman was talking to her young son. She was explaining the meaning of the wall to the boy. That family had lost a relative, and that young man would never meet him, but could see his name etched in the black stone that they stood by.
The tears immediately flowed from our eyes.
The video below is from the Education Center at the Wall, and describes both the wall and the center’s plans.
The Vietnam War was unlike any other conflict before it. Whatever your thoughts about that war – or any conflict – happen to be, The Wall brings home the stark reality that blood is spilled when fighting for a cause. Much of that loss of life was American, but there were many more soldiers, marines, sailors, aviators and civilians who died.
Freedom is never free. The goal of freedom is always worth the cost, because slavery and conquest comes with an even steeper price.
Please thank a vet, and visit The Wall should your next U.S. Destination take you to Washington, DC. ##