The  Wall

 I visited the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington DC, otherwise knows that Viet Nam Wall or just “The Wall”.

 You don’t go see the wall, you experience it. You can’t just stand and look at it. You have to reach out and touch it, and it touches you. It moves you. It goes through your finger tips and into your soul. You gently run your fingers over the names carved in the cool granite. The names. Fifty eight thousand names. 58,272 names crowded together and stretching on forever.

 You look at the flowers, notes and mementos left by family and friends. You watch has a woman hold a piece of paper against the wall rubs a pencil over to capture a tracing of a name. Maybe the name of a husband? A brother? A son?

 I see a man. He is a big man with a scraggly beard and is wearing a leather vest covered with patches. If I had seen this man anywhere else I wouldn’t have paid him any mind, maybe even avoided him. But standing here with his hand pressed against the wall, head bowed, and tears running down his cheeks, I see him differently. I want to go put my arm across his shoulders but I don’t move. This is his moment with a lost friend, brother, comrade.

 You cannot visit the wall and come away unchanged. It touches you in ways that do not expect. The true measure of that terrible war comes home and hits you hard. And it will stay with you forever.

 

 

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