Today I went to see “The wall that heals”. It’s not made of anything special, but what made it… is priceless. It’s not magic or enchanted, but it has healed hearts and souls.
It’s The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. The mobile one which is a ½ scale replica of the original memorial in Washington DC. 58,282 names make up the décor of this wall. The original is granite, black, dark as the loss left behind with the survivors of American’s least supported and longest war to date. Much healing has taken place since this wall was erected in 1982. At first it was practically shunned by the bureaucrats in DC. At its dedication the highest ranking public official was the Assistant Undersecretary from the Department of the Interior. The Wall was unpopular as the war itself. But over the years The Wall healed. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen all left their sorrows there. As America realized the anger they felt towards the war was being directed at those who served in the war and showed a new low in the level of gratitude towards the American Servicemen, the words and the demeanors changed for the better. It has taken many years but America has realized these young men and women were doing their duty. They were in harms way because American put them there. They were some of the smartest, most talented GI’s we had to date. But unlike WWII where over 50% of the servicemen and woman were drafted, in this group over 2/3s were volunteers. The Vietnam Vet doesn’t want any special recognition, they are not asking to be lifted up on a pedestal and hailed above other vets. They will not ask for it but they only want the same respect, the same welcome home, the same gratitude as any other military veteran who was sent to a foreign land to answer the call of duty by their country’s leaders.
Thank you hardly seems like enough to say to a person who’s friends were killed, or who were scarred, or who have come home physically normal but psychologically their scars are as ugly or more ugly than the wounds of their brothers at arms. It hardly seems enough. But say it anyway, show it anyway, let them decide if it is enough. I would venture to say that for nearly all of them it will be plenty.
And so continues the healing towards a select group of just over 3 million who served and of which just over 1 million are still with us. Healing by gratitude from a grateful nation who may not agree with the policy that sent them there in the first place but loves and appreciates the fact they were willing to go wherever and whenever the call went out.
God Bless our surviving Vietnam Veterans. Thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and your willingness to answer the call.
The Wall that Heals is currently set up in Elgin, IL until Sunday September 22, 2013