The 4th of March 2014 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C.

(found, stained with tears and crumpled into a ball, at the foot of it)

My dear Mary Lou –

My trip to The Nation’s Capital (that’s the official name according to all the souvenir shops) is going so well. I’ve seen so much, all those sights. I’ve seen so many people, all in fresh-pressed, dark-colored clothes, all walking fast like they’ve got an important place to be.

I’m sorry you couldn’t make the trip. I guess you could blame it on being the older sister and mom needing you around the house, but I’ll thank you for your kindness and your generosity. I wouldn’t have made it without your sacrifice.

I’ve spent almost the whole time down at the National Mall. The guidebooks say you can get through it all in one day, but I’ve gone three days straight and I haven’t made it halfway through yet.

They built all these things, like shrines, to all these great heroes. It’s pretty incredible. I sat at Jefferson’s feet and read his greatest quotes. I stared into Lincoln’s face – you know how I love Lincoln – and I watched him battle against the weight of a divided union.

But there’s one place I keep going. It’s one place I haven’t actually left yet, at least not without parks service personnel finding me in the dark and telling me to go back to my hotel.

There’s a wall for the Vietnam War.

It’s just all these names.

Names. I can’t get over what happened to these young men. Here they are, turned into nothing more than names. Names that once smiled and laughed and loved, but then were shipped over a big sea to fight a war. Names that cried at night for home and for mother. Names that bled out in a sticky jungle. Names now carved into a wall.

They’ve had their whole humanity squeezed into a simple name.

Is that all anyone sees in anyone else? I keep thinking that. Is that all anyone sees? Just a name?

But, somehow, it’s enough. In fact, it’s just too much. I stand and stare at this wall, this inky black wall, and I hear thousands of voices crying these names. Mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers all screaming out of the darkness, all begging for one last conversation, one last opportunity, one last goodbye.

I tried to remember some of them, but there are too many. Too many Davids and Toms and too many Patricks and Peters. There’s just too many of them.

Is that going to happen to all of us?

Joseph

Inspired by many personal journeys to that gabbro wall.

Inspired by these three photos by Carissa Snedeker.

Please check out the other great submissions to this week’s writing challenge here:

  1. Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned, 03.03.14 | Markie’s Daily Blog
  2. The More | field of thorns
  3. Dreams Insult My Intelligence | Bumblepuppies
  4. Pillow talk | Never Stationary
  5. stone | FamousFeline
  6. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | A mom’s blog
  7. Smile | The Seeker’s Dungeon
  8. Threes: Haikus from Pictures! | Blue Loft
  9. Winter Storm Titan Haikus | Fish Of Gold
  10. A Tribute to my Mum – the Unbeatable Woman | Dreams Will Catch You
  11. Confession About My Boy Band Obsession | Embracing the Journey
  12. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes – Tori Sinks with the Sun | Just Be V
  13. Gone with the Waves | Artfully Aspiring
  14. It’s In The Lost & Found | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
  15. Spring’s here! | Scent of Rina
  16. Haiku X 3 | Musings of a Soul Eclectic
  17. Do You Have Silver Ties? | Home’s Cool!
  18. Friends far away | Nagoonberry
  19. House in three photos! | Scrapydodog
  20. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes – Long walks and dark chocolate
  21. The Road Maps of Life | Lifestyle | WANGSGARD
  22. If anybody asks, you didn’t see me. | Trucker Turning Write
  23. Coach Athlete | The Wind Beneath Their Arms
  24. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes~~Sheila’s Poem |
  25. Blue Boredom Tape Men: Battle of the Pepsi graveyard | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  26. Natasha’s Challenge | Mary J Melange
  27. abandoned, broken, and dreaming | memoirs of an unremarkable man
  28. The Simple Pleasures | Outmanned
  29. Iditarod Trail Invitational | pencil me in
  30. Innermission | The Shady Tree
  31. A Tale of Two Worlds | Victoria.K.Gallagher
  32. Seven Icicles, Part One | Stealing All the Sevens
  33. Inspiration of a pocket watch | live simple
  34. Lady By The Lake — 3 Images /1 Story | eyevpointofview
  35. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes (Skulduggery) | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)
  36. Writing Challenge | Tania Speaks
  37. This is Why I Talk to Strangers | Your Goofy Girl
  38. Threes: A letter to my baby – Weekly Writing Challenge | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  39. Threes… Well that’s a triptych to me! « Alison Spedding Photography
  40. Lebanon Trashed – by Loujain Rabbat | live simple
  41. Give Peace a Chance.. | live simple
  42. I don’t know which one is the real me. The person before alcohol or the one after! | live simple
  43. Seeking Adventure? | live simple
  44. A weekend on the Road | live simple
  45. Have you ever written your own obituary? | live simple
  46. Hello Mr. Breakfast! | live simple
  47. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | Thinking Languages!
  48. My Religion is Dirt | the intrinsickness
  49. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | imagination
  50. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | Morrighan’s Muse
  51. The Memory Eater | Really Short Stories
  52. The Waiting Game – Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes. | Romance Writer
  53. Three times Three: When pictures paint a Haiku!!! | D Lonely Stoner
  54. Sand, Sea and … | Tattered Stamp
  55. Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiku In Threes | Mirth and Motivation
  56. He who loved the snow! | imwritinagain
  57. The Blog Farm | Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiku In Threes
  58. The Importance Of A Mother’s Instinct | So I want to be an author…
  59. Silence | Alex Waldegrave
  60. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | The Willows Weeped
  61. Silence – the ‘threes’ photo challenge | Alex Waldegrave
  62. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | MARGARET ROSE STRINGER
  63. Variety | linkva
  64. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | Holoholo Girls
  65. capturing sweet nothings
  66. Hard Rain | Funk House Art Garden
  67. Sekreku Rumahku | The Frozen Tears
  68. When “Normal” was Normal | Love, Support, Educate, Advocate, Accept…
  69. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | Chiquitita
  70. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | life n me!
  71. Thanks to Those Who Wrote | Cardinal Guzman
  72. Adventures in Expat Living: Offering the Unexpected in everything from Creativity to Toilet Training | reinventing the event horizon
  73. i am telling you i’m not going | Work in Progress…
  74. Suicide no. 31: S.O.S. | derekalanwilkinson
  75. The Lake at Cwm Symlog calls to me… | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  76. Weekly Writing Challenge: Threes | alienisme
  77. The Road to Whitney Portal | the intrinsickness
  78. Crazy Little Sister | Glorious Results Of A Misspent Youth

22 comments

  1. A wall of people now departed who back then had just started. I could have been on that wall but now stooped not so tall. It happened so long ago, when the nation paused in hesitation. Right or wrong I do not know, it was such a long altercation

    1. Correct decisions time may tell,
      But not until the final bell.
      I offer humbly, just my art,
      With statues crumbling, lacking heart.
      History, if lie or true,
      Has rough times, but I’m glad we’re through.

    1. Thank you for reading. I hadn’t heard of that book, but it looks fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

  2. There are so many times when I ponder at similar feelings in my life. I have come to realize that the only ones who will truly get to know me are my parents, my spouse, and my own children. It makes me question the whole idea of leaving a legacy. This piece is definitely a reflection of human emotion that too often goes unnoticed.

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