Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall

This is a view of the East wing of the Traveling Wall. The left end starts while the French were still there in 1955 and runs through mid-1968 on the right end.

This is a view of the West wing of the Traveling Wall. The left end of this segment starts out in mid-1968 and continues until the last death of the war in 1975.

The Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall came to my little home town of Gorham, N.H. this weekend. I wrestled with the idea of going to see it, or not going to see it. I was afraid that if I went, I would lose the ambition to go see the real thing in D.C. After a lot of soul searching, I decided I could not pass up the opportunity to go and see it. I mean heck, I only live 6 miles away from it. I am so glad I did. I am now even more determined to get my butt down to D.C. Enough time has passed, and let's face it, or at least I have to face it, I am no longer a "spring chicken."

The lay-out of this monument is quite unique in that the beginning and the end of the war meet right in the middle. I wonder what, if any, significance should be read into that? As impressive as the wall is, what struck me the hardest was the number of panels dedicated to the lives lost in 1968, the year I was there. On the far right, the last 38 panels, and on the far left, another 36 panels are covered with the thousands of names of my fellow comrades who died while I was there. (The total number of panels is 150.)(I arrived in country on Jan. 5th 1968 and left on Jan. 4th 1969.) How many did I meet but not get to know? How many may have been just ahead or just behind me and maybe took the one meant for me? As a Huey crewchief, I was in the air most of the time. How many did we fly over, not knowing that their minutes were numbered? How many shot the very same gook just as he was about to shoot us down? To many questions. No answers. I found a quote which I can not give credit for the author, but I have to share it with you, my dear readers. Some very profound words:

"For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know."

Take a close look at these numbers. America sent 3,100,000 men and women to Vietnam to fight for freedom, to keep Communism from spreading throughout South East Asia. Of that number, 58,253 died, 153,303 were wounded, and 1,802 are still missing. That, my friends, means that about 7 out of every 100 personel sent over there were very seriously physically affected. I am sure you can quadruple that percentage if you add in the severely mentally screwed up. Gee, with all that I wonder why Vietnam vets were THE FIRST to step up to the plate to make sure the Gulf War vets were HONORED and WELCOMED HOME upon their return? Why are most Vietnam Vets so damned patriotic? Why do they detest assholes that burn our flag? Why do they still care so much for a country that turned their backs on them? Why are they on that dumb bitch, Janet Napolitano's hit list? Why? Why? Why?

Because we LOVE America, THAT'S WHY!!

During the weekend, I started feeling a bit nostalgic, so I also visited the memorials in Gorham and Berlin. That brought on a whole lot more feelings and memories which I think I shall write about, perhaps in a future post. Until then friends, spread this word for me if you would, "If you love your freedom, thank a vet!" Make a habit of it, it'll actually make you feel better about yourself.

These pictures were taken with our fairly new camera. My wife has become quite good at taking pictures with it, but since she has pretty much confiscated it since we bought it, I have just started to feel comfortable with it. If you left click on the pictures, you will find that they are HUGE! And beautiful, even if I do say so myself. Here's 1 more for you. It's interesting to compare the statistics of the various wars in our history.


Law and Order Teacher said...

I am honored to make the first comment to this post. I am happy you found it in yourself to go. It is painful, but I think necessary.

I have that poster in my classroom. I am amazed that the kids stop and stare at it. They are overwhelmed by the numbers. It hits home that "Freedom isn't free."

Allow me to say from one brother to another, "Welcome home."

Anonymous said...

I saw the traveling one several years back and saw the real thing too. Both are amazing testimonials to our freedom.

God Bless.

Mr Pink Eyes said...

Thank you for your service. You obviously made the right choice in going to see the memorial. I can't even begin to understand what feelings and memories must have been going through your mind. It must have been a hard choice but one that you will not regret.
Thank you again.

Chuck said...

Great post AA. I have always wanted to see the Wall in DC.

The numbers on the posters are stunning. I must admit I did not know a lot of these.

Over 3 million in Vietnam.

16 million in WWII


Z said...

Thanks, Average, what an amazing reminder of all you and so many others have gone through for America.
We owe all of you a great debt, and to the families whose soldiers didn't make it home.
I'm glad it turned out to be a good choice to go; we all benefited from your visit.
God bless. and THANKS. z

shoprat said...

Our military did not lose that war. Our treasonous congress and treasonous media did. Those people should apologize to every name listed there.

Ray said...

Great post AA, very nice and thanks as always for your service to country

Shop is right and those same fkrs almost cost us this one too, all to get this Kenyan soldier of Islam elected.

We didn't lose one battle in that hellhole of a jungle, the bleeding hearts led by Walter Kommiekite won that war for Charlie and communism.

I've seen both walls as well Kris, and if you don't leave those things with tears in your eyes I question one's love for this country and the men and women who keep it free.

The media likes to think they keep America free, but is the soldier, not the reporter, who gives us the freedom of press...not to mention all the other freedoms they guard that Chairman MaoBama seeks to steal away.

Texas Truth said...

I am glad you went. I had seen the travelling wall twice before I got to see the actual wall in DC. Seeing the travelling version did not diminish the power of the DCwall. Thanks for the post and for going.

christian soldier said...

The D.C. Wall is Awesome--the traveling wall reaches more citizens and their children-I'm glad to have both of them--and would like to see the traveling wall...
SR is right--our military did not lose that war ..our arm-chair politicians did!...

As to the engagements we are in now..-I vowed that if I saw anyone spit upon or verbally assault one of our BEST - I would perform a citizen's arrest!...

Average American said...

LOT, thanks so much. I bought the poster with all the major wars on it. What a beauty, and you're right, Freedom isn't Free! Welcome home and a thank you for your service to you also.

Kris, I haven't seen the original wall yet, but as I said in the post, I'm even more encouraged to go now.

Mr Pink Eyes, thanks, and yes it was the right choice. The feelings are manageable now a days, but the anger returns every time I think we might quit on one of our current battles.

Chuck, I'm thinking that D.C. will be my next vacation, probably next year. No more excuses. I owe it to the people those numbers represent and I owe it to myself.

Z, as impressive as that traveling memorial is, I have to see the one in D.C. I would definitely recommend that anyone who has a chance should see one of them. It is something you will never forget.

Shoprat, you got that right! The day the picture of Charlie getting shot in the head in Saigon was splashed all over the papers back home was the day we lost that war. Americans found out that they have no stomach for war. I have blamed the media and the politicians and the gutless for almost 40 years, blamed them for letting 58,253 of us die----for nothing!

Ray, thank you. You sure are right about the tears. I ran into one of the people that worked so hard to raise the funds and get that wall to come way up here to our little town. I cried like a damned baby trying to thank her for it. She understood.

TT, thanks, and you are welcome. I am so glad I went. I will never forget the feeling of being there, and I WILL see the original wall--soon!

Carol, if I ever see anyone spit on or assault a vet of ANY war, it will be me that ends up getting arrested. The other guy will need an ambulance, and I am NOT normally a violent person, but I and most Vietnam vets swore that no other generation of America's best will EVER be treated like we were, EVER!

Brooke said...

I got to see the traveling wall a few years ago, it is amazing.

I wish I could go to the real thing.

WomanHonorThyself said...

beautiful post my best friend..( a bit older than me..heh)... was a VietNam vet..thank u for this one Joe:)

Anonymous said...

"For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know."

Well said. Thank you Joe.

Z said...

Just came to look and see the comments to your wonderful post.....I'm with MK..that phrase about freedom is beautiful, Average, and I KNOW it's so true.
God bless.
Ignore "Woman"..she's just bragging!! HEH

Average American said...

Brooke, yes, it sure is amazing. You're young and have plenty of time to go to D.C., and I'm sure you will someday.

Angel, you are welcome my friend. I think my posts that come straight from my heart are always the best ones.

MK, I wish I could take credit for those words, but I can not. I don't know who the author was, I found it on a bumper sticker at the Traveling Wall exhibition.

Z, I can't ignore Angel, she gives me more cyber hugs than any one else, and I just LOVE hugs from pretty young ladies (____) (that thing was supposed to be a big smile.)

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I had no idea there was such a thing as a traveling wall.

I WILL tell you this: I expected to be quite disappointed when I went to visit the Vietnam Memorial my first time in 1991. It was called The Gash. Instead, I found myself moved beyond belief. It is a stirring memorial, particularly when viewed a distance away. Only then do you begin to acquire a sense of the true human cost and scope of Vietnam.


Always On Watch said...

I had no idea there was a Vietname Memorial Traveling Wall.

Being local to D.C., I rarely visit the actual memorial downtown. But every time I go, I find myself awed. I think that all who visit the wall feel that way -- unless those "visitors" are of the Code Pink crowd, that is.

Average American said...

BZ, AOW, the traveling wall does just that, it travels. For about 40 weeks per year, the wall goes from place to place giving people a chance to get a rough idea of what the real wall is. Between setting up and taking down the wall and the 4 days it stays in one place, I assume that means about 40 towns get to host it. The local American Legions and the V.F.W. post spent over a year raising the necessary funds and doing the planning for this event.

This opportunity to see a smaller version has inspired me even more to get my ass down to D.C. to "feel" the original. The only thing I know for sure is that I have to do it alone. I don't know if I'll want to spend an hour or a weekend there. I can't very well expect my wife or any one else to stick to that kind of schedule. Besides, I really don't like people I know seeing me cry.

Anonymous said...

I'm with BV and AOW...I never knew a traveling wall existed. Thank you for this beautiful post and your service!

I saw the Vietnam wall in DC and I just stood there staring at it for the longest time reading all the names. I didn't know them but I felt them all the same. There was just something special about it that is very hard to describe.

I'm glad you saw it, some things are just once in a lifetime opportunities.

Average American said...

Hi Jenn, thanks for stopping by. You live close enough to the real wall that they probably never set up the traveling wall anywhere near you. It is quite an emotional thing to visit, I will attest to that. I plan more than ever now to go and see the one in D.C., and you are right, a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

Dennis said...

Sorry I didn't get your name of if I did I sure have spaced it since meeting lots of folks as we travel each week setting up the wall around the country. Your response and others like yourself are what makes it worthwhile to continue traveling with the wall. Dennis

Becky said...

Linked to your blog from Airman Mom, but figured I'd take a look around, and this post made me want to share a story w/you that was relayed to me by my husband and one of his buddies. They were coming home one Sunday afternoon when they decided to stop and see the travelling wall which was in our area of CT that weekend. My husband was in uniform still since he hadn't made it home from the weekend yet. While they were there a young boy walked up to them and said, "how does it feel to be a hero?" I guess my husband got down to the kids level and pointed at the wall and said, "I'm not a hero, I'm doing a job I love for a country I love. Those names up on the wall? Those people are the real heroes." I thought that was so touching. Thank you for your service to our country, I know firsthand how much of a sacrafice you give and it is so appreciated.

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