A Memorial Day Remembrance
The Moving Wall is a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. Volunteers transport the wall to communities across America so that family members and friends can visit and remember those who died in the Vietnam War. I wrote this personal reflection some years ago as the Moving Wall display came down after several days in Fayetteville, NC just outside Fort Bragg.
As volunteers began the task of dismantling The Moving Wall a few people remained to watch as the Wall came down panel by panel. I noticed a young woman standing alone, some distance away, visibly upset. Tears streamed down her face. I asked her if there was anything I could do to help, but she shook her head, then said, “I just don’t want the Wall to leave, I wish it could always be right here.”
When I asked if she knew someone on the Wall, she told me her father’s name was on panel 19W. He was killed in Vietnam when she was four years old, but her mother didn’t take her to the funeral because she was so young. She want on to say the candlelight service held at the wall the previous night, had been for her, a funeral for her dad.
I thought about telling her I had several friends whose names were on the Wall but that seemed inadequate. So I told her she was welcome to stay as long as she wanted and explained the Wall needed to go so more people could share in the experience of seeing the names. Then I went back to work, wrapping up details of preparing the Wall for its departure.
A few minutes later the volunteers had almost reached panel 19W and the young woman was still there, watching from the edge of the darkness. I asked her if she would like to place the panel with her dad’s name into its resting place on board the trailer.
The Vietnam Vets, the VFW members and other volunteers working on the Wall stopped and watched silently as a young woman named Angela picked up the panel and with a little help, slid it into the trailer slot for panel 19W.
Then, as she walked toward the parking lot, she turned and said, “Thanks. I’ll never forget this Wall.”
Neither will the rest of us.
The Moving Wall Vietnam War Memorials are on display through Memorial Day 2017 in Sandusky, MI, Sachse, TX and Morehead City, NC. To see other scheduled displays visit: http://themovingwall.org/
James Aura’s novel, ‘When Saigon Surrendered’ is a mystery which tells the story of a Kentucky family in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.