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Vietnam still fresh in our minds
August 30, 2011 - Jim Smith
The Vietnam War ended nearly 40 years ago, but to many of my generation, it is still as fresh in our minds as yesterday's news.
The war was the first brought into our living rooms every night as troops sludged through muck and mud, in monsoons, rice paddies and through mountain villages, taking fire from hidden enemies who would shake your hand in friendship one minute and throw a grenade the next.
For more than 58,000 American troops Vietnam was where they made their ultimate sacrifice. To honor Americans killed in action in Vietnam and all 2.7 million men and women who served there, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was erected in 1982 and in 1984 The Wall, the statue of Three Infantrymen and the flagpole, were combined on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial.
The Wall, as it has become known, was designed by Maya Ying Lin, an undergraduate at Yale University who was born of Chinese parents in Athens, Ohio.
She sought to create a protected, quiet place to honor the fallen and display their names on mirror-like surfaces of polished black granite. The granite sections reflect the images of those around it and tapers from those first killed in the war, growing in size as the deaths mounted and then declining as the U.S. began pulling out of the conflict.
The first time I saw The Wall, I cried, and I still feel a deep sadness each and every time I see it. At night the names seem to glisten off The Wall like ghosts of a time not that long ago and the darkened stillness around that nearly holy place gives an even more eerie feeling.
For those who have not had the experience of seeing The Wall in Washington, the Vietnan Traveling Memorial Wall is an excellent likeness of the original and undoubtedly will bring deep emotion to those seeing it for the first time, reading the names of those killed in the war, finding the names of friends who lost their lives there.
It is impossible to see The Wall and not be overcome by all those seemingly neverending names, remembering each one died in that war.
I would encourage everyone to take the time and make the effort to go to Parkersburg City Park Sept. 1-6 to see the Traveling War and pay respect to those whose names are on it and to the other 2.7 million men and women who served in that war.
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