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Friday, May 30, 2014

Memorial Day weekend at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

It was startling and gratifying on May 25, 2014 to see so many parents too young to remember the Vietnam War themselves bring their children to honor the 58,286 soldiers whose names appear on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Some brought art work, flags, clothing, plastic flowers in commemorative wrap, and mementos to leave at the memorial. A ranger for the National Park Service said all items are collected nightly except for Memorial Day weekend when items were left at the wall for visitors to see. Volunteers, including members of Rolling Thunder, help the single ranger gather the keepsakes, and non-perishables are stored in a warehouse. Some of them will be displayed at the memorial's new visitors center once funding is completed, and the center is built/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The names of the war dead and those missing in action are etched in stone and appear chronologically beginning with 1959 on the far upper left where the wall points to the Lincoln Memorial and stretching to 1975 with the wall in the foreground pointing to the Washington Monument/Photo by Patricia Leslie
This looks towards the Washington Monument (in the distance) and more current years and names.  The design by Maya Lin, then a Yale University undergraduate student, was intended to bring the past and present together with reflections on the wall.  Her creation was chosen in a blind competition which received 2,573 submissions.  The wall was completed in 1982 and was so controversial at the time, another memorial called "The Three Servicemen" (or "The Three Soldiers") was unveiled two years later, designed by the third-place finisher in the contest, Frederick Hart.  It and the Vietnam Women's Memorial designed by Glenna Goodacre and dedicated in 1993, stand nearby.  Ms. Goodacre, who also submitted in the original competition, had to change her women's winning design because of controversy/Photo by Patricia Leslie
At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, May 25, 2014/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Nearby directories make it relatively easy to locate names of soldiers which may be copied identically with available paper/Photo by Patricia Leslie 
Boots, medals, photos and biographies of the deceased and missing lined the wall on Memorial Day weekend/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The park ranger said he thought more people than usual came to see the memorial last weekend.  Its stature grows with its increasing image as an American shrine, to match the respect and honor due all soldiers who protect and serve the United States. In a list compiled by the American Institute of Architects in 2007, Americans ranked the Vietnam Veterans Memorial tenth most favorite architecture/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Honoring POW/MIA soldier, Ronald E. Smith/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Poems by children were found at the wall.  This is the cover of a book which says "MILITARY We Will Fight For You.  A Collection of Poems by Jonathan Post, Troy, Ohio.  Navy!  Air Force!  Marines!  Army!"/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Jonathan devoted a page to his mother which says "I dedicate this poetry anthology to my mom because she has helped me with some of the poems in this book and had the paitience it took to sit there and help."/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A statement and artwork by a student says "The Vietnam War was the most hated war that the U.S. faught and, when the soliders  came home they were treated very badly."  On the right of the page is a drawing of a female in a short skirt who calls out "Boo!!!" and "You stink!!!" That these young children are educated about the war and its futility was welcoming.  A local Vietnam vet told me this week he has only visited the memorial once, and no more because of the pain.  Another one said he was never able to go and see it.  "Why?  Why?" John cried. "What was the purpose? All a waste!  All for egos!"/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A floral tribute at the memorial which says "Rolling Thunder Never Forget Our Brothers and Sisters"/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A wooden wreath with soldiers' dog tags at the memorial/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Some of the wreaths at dusk at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, May 25, 2014/Photo by Patricia Leslie
When it got too dark to see, the people took out their telephones and used the lights to illuminate names of those not forgotten. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is open all day and night/Photo by Patricia Leslie

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