We are now approaching a memorial that hits very close to home. This is my generation. This is the first War of which I have any remembrance. I remember the horrible news casts, the political unrest, the demonstrations to end the war, and the flag draped caskets being unloaded from the returning planes. This memorial was painful and I took the coward’s way out.
At the entrance you’ll find Three Serviceman’s Memorial. I can see the Wall from there. The Wall is actually 2 walls meeting . They are tallest where they meet and taper down, one toward the Washington Monument , the other toward the Lincoln Memorial. The configuration is meant to symbolize a “wound that is closed and healing. To my mind I wonder if it will ever heal.
While all of the memorials are moving in their own way, I found this one, like Pearl Harbor, almost too much to bear. I spent my time with the Three Soldiers and avoided the Wall. Like I said I was a coward. I just could not bear to look at all those names, all those young lives, gone.
On the walls are the names of servicemen classified as KIA (Killed in Action), or MIA (Missing in Action) when the walls were constructed.
Those who died in action are denoted by a diamond, those who were missing (MIA’s, POW’s and others) are denoted with a cross. When the death of one who was previously missing is confirmed, a diamond is superimposed over the cross. If the missing were to return alive, which has never occurred to date, the cross is to be circumscribed by a circle.
The Three Serviceman’s Memorial
Back to the 3 Soldiers, the lead figure represents a Marine, identified as such by the body armor vest he’s wearing.
The man on the right is also wearing an armor vest but a different type that was used primarily by the army. Around his neck the Soldier carries a GI towel, which served to absorb sweat and cushion heavy loads, and was a common practice of many Soldiers in Vietnam.
The third soldier wears no armor but he appears to be a U.S. Army Soldier, as he wears a Tropical (“Boonie”) Hat which was widely worn by Army combat personnel in Vietnam.
In order to identify the major ethic groups that served in Vietnam, the leader is depicted as a European America, the man on the right is African American and the one on the left Latin American.
This was enough for me. I had paid my respects, if from afar, and I returned to the bus to wait for our next stop.