I had occasion yesterday to stop by the Traveling Viet Nam Memorial Wall exhibit that was at our local American Legion Post this past week.
This was built to a 3/5 scale of the original, the permanent Memorial in Washington, D.C. While I was there, I learned a few things about this exhibit. The one I visited was actually one of five that are traveling throughout the country. Each is slightly different, but all are modeled on the original. This particular Wall takes from 3 1/2 to 8 hours to assemble or disassemble and prepare for travel. The setup time varies because of the terrain on which it is displayed. A concrete surface, such as we had, is ideal, and leads to the shortest assembly time.
Each piece is numbered for assembly and breakdown, and has a designated spot on the 32-ft trailer for ease of packing. The Wall I saw was owned by a veteran's group from Florida.
Our local school district displayed a number of photographs and drawings from each school, and individual students contributed some of their efforts around the general military theme. There was also a display showing each of the young men from our county who had died in the Viet Nam War, complete with biographical details and a photograph of each soldier.
As I was making my way through the Wall viewing area, I was struck by the number of "Jrs" who were listed there. I thought, each of these families wanted to carry on the father's name, only to have it snuffed out while serving our country.
I also had several lines from the Statler Brothers' song "The Wall" run through my mind; most frequently was, "Oh Lord, could you tell him, he's more than a name on a wall?"
Viewing this exhibit was a moving and sobering experience for me. It gave me pause to think how fortunate I am that I did not have to go through what these brave young men did, and men and women like them still go through today.