Wednesday, February 25, 2009

At the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial

There are slow spots in going through the old notebooks, but then, occasionally, I find something I'm really glad is there. Although I was at the dedication of the Viet Nam Memorial in DC, I took pictures that day. I guess I was so preoccupied with taking pictures that I wrote nothing in the notebook that day. Not long after the dedication I was back down at the memorial and here's what I experienced.

6/5/83--Viet Nam Memorial
It's a balmy June day in 1983. Streams of tourists in bright colored summer clothes contrast with the somber black marble of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial--a group queus up by the big book to look for names and where they are located. The clothes are gay and bright but the mood is appropriate. A dozen or so people are gathered around a wreath leaned against the wall with a page long hand-written letter to someone named Bill. A young teenage girl is reading aloud. The word love is mentioned often. The letter talks about each name representing twenty years, how each name was some mother's little boy "just as you were mine" and ends with "you're gone but definitely not forgotten. Love, Mom

At the end of a walkway under some trees two men hold flags--they are Nam vets, part of a vigil for POW-MIA (Prisoners of War-Missing in Action). A friendly guy in fatigues with a big black moustache says "Good morning people, won't you sign our petition." there are three petitions--one to congress, one to the president, one to Hanoi. There are 4 Million signatures on the one to Hanoi already. "You may have heard," he says, " a few days ago nine more bodies were sent back. we just want the rest of them."