Wall is an honor to Vietnam vetsPublished 9:03am Tuesday, November 13, 2012
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington celebrates its 30th anniversary today. It was designed by Maya Ying Lin, a Yale University student who was 21 at the time. The idea for the memorial came to veteran Jan Scruggs in 1979 when he suffered from flashbacks after watching the movie “The Deer Hunter.” “The Wall,” as it is called, is made of polished black granite with 58,282 names, of which eight are women. It has become one of Washington’s most popular attractions with 4.5 million visitors a year.
Every two years I make it to my Army reunion with the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment (of Dragoons). This year it was at Gettysburg, and in 2010 it was in Arlington, Va. We always hold a memorial service for our fallen comrades and we held it at “The Wall” in 2010. As you look at the names of buddies you remember, your face reflects back and it becomes an emotional experience. Just like Gettysburg, it has become a hallowed place. At our farewell banquet, our speaker read us these words that were written by Marine Michael Norman in his book “These Good Men”:
“I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite. Not to tell stories or look at old pictures. Not to laugh or weep. Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who once acted their best, men who suffered and sacrificed, who were stripped raw, right down to their humanity.
“I did not pick these men. They were delivered by fate. But I know them in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were willing to guard something more precious than my life. They would have carried my reputation, the memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for one another.
“I cannot say where we are headed. Ours are not perfect friendships; those are the province of legend and myth. A few of my comrade’s drift far from me now, sending back only occasional word. I know that one day even these could fall to silence. Some of the men will stay close, a couple perhaps, always at hand.
“As long as I have memory, I will think of them all, every day. I am sure that when I leave this world, my last thought will be of my family and my comrades … such good men.”
2nd Squadron of the 1st Cavalry Regiment