Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bless Them

I didn't post a Memorial Day post. Although my great uncles fought in WW I, my father and father in law served in WW II and my great white hunter in Vietnam, I have not personally lost anyone to war.

However, over the weekend, in spite of gas being $4.15 a gallon, the great white hunter and I took a trip to Payson, AZ to visit the replica of the Vietnam War Memorial that travels around the county. It is 80% to scale and is 8 foot tall and 370 feet long. It consists of 34 panels that contain the names of 58,219 names of men and women listed as killed or missing in action during the Vietnam War. It is a gut wrenching memorial to LOSS.

This post is not to take a stand for or against war. We each have our belief about that and that is what this country is about, the right to have your opinion. It is a post about the great loss our country suffered in the past and is presently suffering again.

Forty years after my great uncles came home from WW I, they could ask "WHY?" and they had an answer. Forty years after Daddy and my father in law came home, they could ask "WHY?", and be secure that they knew why they fought. My generation asks that question now, 40 years later and there is no answer to our "WHY?". People viewing that wall have are confronted with overwhelming loss with no answers forty years later. Will those who are fighting today have a answer to that question in forty years? History will determine that.

The great white hunter was not stationed in Vietnam. He served several TDY's (temporary duty) there. He was there when our great white hunter #2 son was born. Our son was 8 months old before his Daddy saw or held him. That was the way it was, his job was to be there. I was home with two babies, making sure that I didn't read any newspaper reports of battles and death, didn't listen to TV reports and made sure I knew nothing about where things were the worse over there. I managed by putting on blinders and taking care of business, which at that time was a lot of diapers.

My first reaction to this wall was how long it was and how the names were so compacted on each panel. I started at one end to walk the length, and it was quite a journey. Short in length, long in realization of what this county lost in young, vibrant life in a few short years.

The Wall in DC is a place for people to place remembrances of their friends and loved ones, respect for the loss and to share grief. This replica is no different. All along the length were things people had laid by the panel where the name of their loved one was written. There were flowers, mostly red roses, letters, medals, stuffed animals, pictures and copies of newspaper articles about lost loved ones. There was one very interesting display that contained arrows with messages on them, with one of the arrows broken. There is a large American Indian population in this area, perhaps a custom for a fallen warrior? I would have loved to know the meaning behind the arrows. One panel had a picture of a young smiling man pasted on it, by his name.

The one thing that shook me to the core was a grave decoration like you buy for Memorial Day. It was small, made from silk flowers and simply said, "DAD." It hit me that this was, not only a tribute to a lost father, but to all those children who grew up not knowing the person behind the name on that wall. All around was LOSS, not just life but lost chances and opportunity.

There was a group gathered around one panel, people mostly our age. A man broke away from the group and grabbed for a nearby chair, put his face in his hands and broke down in deep sobs. Forty years later and the pain and loss is still there. When the great white hunter came home, we picked up our life where we had left it, raised out family and went on. Not so for so many who did not come home.........may God bless them, may we always remember them.


Amelia said...

What a touching blog...our thanks go out to the ones who lost their lives during this war. And a large thanks to those fighting in this present one.

Have a great week.


rlsmith said...

A broken arrow generally signifies an end of a conflict or peace in some form. In older times, when warring tribes reached a peace, an arrow was broken as a symbolic gesture to all to show all there would be no more war, a broken arrow cannot be fired.

Katie said...

What a thoughtful respectful posting. Glad they have that mobile replica. I am so glad I got to see the one in DC. The location is so special there. I walked down a path and as I did so, I got quiet and thoughtful. There are also memorials to the Korean War and WWII. Each has its own specialness. And then there is Arlington. So moving. I wish everyone could visit there.

Carol Van Rooy said...

How very true.... I too have been fortunate to have never lost anyone to war, but bless those you fought whether right or wrong for our country.

I've often asked what was gained, given the fight continues. I suppose we'll never know and furthermore we'll always have to ask ourselves, "at what loss to we proclaim advantageous?!? gain???.

Finn said...

Morning Norma, I love your post. The thoughtfulness of each word, chosen carefully to express both what you saw and what you felt.
Our minds were running in a very similar vein.
So many of the same thoughts I had on Saturday evening watching that Hallmark program.
To see the young soldier(28 yrs) standing at the gate of his parents farm and being told so very rudely that "IT" was being farmed by THIS young couple now. To find no one to welcome him home, and his younger brother, who was his entire family, in trouble and in jail for a long period. It's easy to say "leave the bad stuff behind", not so easily done.
Vietnam trouble me still, as does the Korean "conflict". DH was in the USAF at the beginning of the war in Vietnam...he was stationed remote in Alaska, north of the artic circle, first line of radar defense. Not the same at all, thank God. We were out of it in '63, and back to finish college. Most of the 1960's I'd just as soon forget, but can't. With children born in '67 and '69, how could one forget the state of the world?
It's a great post Norma, thank you. Big hugs, Finn

Beth said...

on our recent vacation, we were able to visit Arlington National Cemetery and see the changing of the guard. We missed all the flags on Memorial Day, but the reverence of the place is always there. We also visited the Vietnam Memorial and the newest one (I had not seen -completed in 2004) WW2 Memorial. Our son was very subdued. Our tram driver gave some school kids a brief LECTURE on respect as a funeral procession passed. We gave him a round of pats on the back as we left.

Teresa said...

A very touching post. Thank you for sharing your emotions and thoughts, memories.

Belvie said...

Well said, Norma!

Granny Lyn said...

You've touched us all, and I wish the whole country could read your blog.

I am constantly thankful for the men and women in our Armed Forces, and I'm constantly in awe of the loved ones left at home to wait out the war.

God Bless All Of Them!