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To The Wall

 

It was a nice trip to Washington D.C., the kids were really learning a lot. I hadn't realized how much of our national heritage is there in such a small area. I wanted to go to the Wall alone, but, well it just didn't happen that way. We had just left the Lincoln Memorial, I guess I knew it was close by, then one of the kids spotted it.

"Oh Daddy, there's the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial!" I didn't know what would happen when I saw it, but there it was, and there I was.

"Daddy, my friend Jenny said when she went to visit it, there was a man walking up and down, pointing at the wall, then falling on his knees and crying! Oh Daddy, you were in Vietnam weren't you? Are you going to cry Daddy?"

So, what do you say now? Are you going to cry? As I got closer the awesome size of the Black Wall seemed to grab me, the names, so many names, so many dead. My gut grew tight, I could feel the Wall as if it reached out for me. My little girl took my hand, stopped and looked up at my face.

"Why was the man crying Daddy, was he a soldier in Vietnam? Are you OK Daddy?" Yes, I guess he was a soldier in Vietnam, he's probably still fighting, ...so are you going to cry. "Yes Baby, I'm OK... ah, I don't think I'm going to cry."

"What was it like Daddy, in Vietnam I mean?" Well, what was it like, what will a nine year old mind be able to comprehend. Do I tell her of the horror of war, of a time in my life when my fondest dream was to be alive for tomorrow's sunrise, a time when some of those names on the Wall were my friends. I gaze at the Wall trying to grasp the full meaning, trying to understand the loss of 58 thousand lives. The Wall seems to reflect the question, so what was it like, in Vietnam?

"Well, Sweetheart, ah..., it was really awful, all these names are the men who died there."

"Oh, well Daddy why did they have to die there?" I look at the names, the Wall reflects my image, and the question back to me. My gut is wrenched and my mind races to find an answer. "Well Daddy, why? Why did they have to die there?"

The tears begin to come and the old survival instinct begins to take over. Emotions begin to shut down and for a while it's like Nam again, don't think, don't feel, just sweat and do what has to be done.

"I don't know, Sweetheart, I..., I just don't know."

LCK

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