Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial....

My entire life, I was intrigued by the Vietnam War. I have come to realize it was what tied me to my father. My dad was in the 5th Force Recon {Marine Corps} and was in Vietnam from 1968-1969. The stories he has told me throughout my life and him not living in Arizona made my obsession with this war, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Agent Orange. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to go to Washington, D.C. to see The Wall. This first photo was my first view of the Wall. I cannot even explain my emotions. By the time I found the Wall, I had already seen the Washington Memorial, WWII Memorial, Reflecting Pool, the White House, and had been lost through the streets of D.C. for about 4 hours. But this, this memorial is why I started my adventure that day... to see the Wall, by myself, and feel the emotions I knew I would have. I envisioned seeing flags, letters, teddy bears, letters, but nothing was left next to the wall that day; however, wedged between two panels was this braclet "Bring them Home Now".
The reflection of the Wall is amazingly beautiful... but the amount of names listed is unbelievable. In my research, I found "The latest names added in 2010, brought the number of names on the black granite Wall to 58,267" and "the Memorial is dedicated to the 2.7 million men and women in the U.S. military who served in the designated war zone".
As I walked down past each panel, it was a bittersweet feeling. A feeling of being thankful to these men and woman for the sacrafices they made for us. A feeling of saddness that children grew up without their fathers/mothers because their names were now on this wall because of their sacrafice. Anger for this war taking something from the young soldiers who fought, for those who live still today and are still suffering from this war that ended 35 years ago. Anger at how the soldiers who did come home were treated. It makes me sick to think that people spit on them, looked down on them, that our own government did not accept that there were issues these men and women came home with. When my dad came home from Vietnam, he filled sandbags and put them around his mom's house to protect his family from the enemy. He was 21 years old when he came home. When I was younger, it seemed like he was "such a man" for going off to war but as I grow older, I realize, he was just a kid.

My father, after 40 years, still suffers from PTSD and has medical conditions that have come from the war (medicial conditions due to Agent Orange). Even though I am very blessed, and my father survived the war, after all these years, the war is killing him. That makes me angry! We think that when the soldiers come home, we are lucky. They are alive and hopefully, there will not be medical conditions later due to chemicals but because of the chemicals our government sprayed on the foilage in Vietnam during this war, my father is dying. He's not alone either.

"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'Donnell1 January 1970Dak To, VietnamListed as KIA February 7, 1978

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