I walked through the fallen leaves on a bright & brisk morning. I came across the field and walked the pathway toward it remembering my first visit many years and a lifetime ago. Back then, I was overwhelmed with emotion because the monument itself was beautiful, unique, powerful. I remember I had stopped in my tracks after it came into view. Masterfully created, mindfully placed.
Sacrifice finally recognized.
While I thought I knew what to expect having visited the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, DC before, the emotion hit me harder and more deeply this day. Perspective broadened, time passed, gratitude carved into my soul.
58,286 names etched into black granite.
Each name belongs. A son, a brother, a father, a friend.
The youngest name belongs to a 15 year old who lied about his age.
The memorial is a somber place standing out among the white marble momuments and tributes that surround it. The intention of the black granite surface is to reflect the trees and sky and the people who come to visit.
A place to grieve. A place to remember.
Tributes are carried to The Wall and left behind usually with tears of grief and sadness. A burden of the survivors. Flowers, letters, emblems of friendship and memories. A brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle — a gift to an only child from his dad, was left at the wall to honor the son who would never get to ride it.
The commitment continues to bring each one home to be buried in the United States.
Near each name is a small symbol:
a diamond means they are accounted for
+ symbolizes they have not been recovered and are still missing.
As the remains are discovered and returned home, the + is etched
into a diamond.
The + will be etched into a circle when, and if, they return alive.