Archive for the ‘Memorial Vietnam Wall’ Category

The United States of America must honor the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. If not, America faces losing its national identity and its values and stories to pass on to future generations.

We have been privileged locally to take part in honoring veterans and telling national stories. The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall visited Boulder from July 18 through July 20 at Crist Mortuary and Mountain View Memorial Park and was sponsored by the same.

The ceremonies surrounding the wall display reflect us. We say the Pledge of Allegiance together. We pray in various ways and are tolerant of religious differences. We sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at veteran’s memorials, not just at ball games.

Our patriotic and musical heritage not only brings us together but comforts and prepares our hearts to hear solemn speeches and presentations. It helps us remember our dead when the lone bugler plays “Taps.” Flag presentations, 21-gun salutes and flyovers hold special meanings as well.

Before I entered the memorial park around 9 p.m. on Sat., July 19, the details of my life seemed paramount. Once inside the gates, however, I became focused on paying respects to the Vietnam veterans who died between 1959 and 1975. Their names are listed on the three-quarter-size traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. I also thought about one of my brothers, who served in the war on a Navy submarine and died in 1990.

Security personnel offered assistance for those with mobility difficulties from closer parking to golf cart rides. I thought of the veterans coming back from war with injuries and of older parents and grandparents. Because of my own disability, a golf cart driver took me, my husband and a wheelchair borrowed from a neighbor from our vehicle to within several yards of the wall.

Beside the wall, a sign reminded visitors the place was sacred, not a place for protest. I was glad the tone was hushed and hallowed. In the evening’s darkness, spotlights shined on the chevron-shaped wall reflecting visitors’ faces on the dark marble. Posted American flags, mementos and flowers lay in remembrance.

The names of over 58,000 listed on the wall and read aloud seemed endless. I thought of the individuals – someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s parent. I sensed in a small way the immeasurable loss to their families and to our country. Though I didn’t know any of them, I felt sad, then grateful for their sacrifices.

A secondary but meaningful part of my memorial experience happened on the slight hill between the golf cart and the wall. Someone stepped up to push as my husband pulled me up the grassy hill in a wheelchair. On the way down, a gravel path got the wheelchair going too fast. When the wheelchair stopped, I kept on going — onto the grass.

I wasn’t seriously hurt but would have been humiliated in another setting. Instead, the incident helped me think about U.S. comrades buoying each other up and the importance of our country doing the same. One man helped me up on one side with my husband on the other. Then, a golf cart driver, who said his father was an amputee, drove a cart up on the grass so I could get on easily.

On Sunday morning, I reflected on the evening’s experiences and hoped for healing for the families and friends whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice. Thanks to all who brought this memorial to Boulder. Thanks to those who helped me so I could be numbered among those who said by our presence, “We will never forget.”

Source: Published July 27, 2008 Daily Camera

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