The 50th Anniversary of the Viet Nam War
My wife, Rosetta, and I have collaborated on this post in honor of Memorial Day. Rosetta, writes a regular blog on Sicily Cuisine Culture and Tradition — the link is here.
I have lived in Washington DC all of my life. It is a majestic city, filled with memorials and history.
I recall as a six-year old, looking down from my father’s office building on the procession with President Kennedy’s casket, and the absolute silence from the crowd, broken only by the clip clop of the horses’ hooves against the street. It was an eerie scene and has stuck with me forever.
Yet, the monument that affects us most deeply is the Viet Nam War Memorial. It is the 50th Anniversary of the Viet Nam war, and it really is the most significant war which occurred in my lifetime, given the impact that it had on our political system, our foreign policy and America’s global role.
To experience the full impact of the Memorial, one should visit it at night. In the dark, lights illuminate the names of our slain soldiers. One cannot help but feel overcome by the sacrifice that our soldiers made and the tragedy it represents. It is powerful to think of the emotional reverberations across our land from the death of each soldier and the impact that such a loss had on all the loved ones connected to each name listed on the Memorial. It is perhaps the most poignant message to all of us on the ultimate cost of war — the loss of so many innocent lives.
We have been visiting this Memorial for years. Every time we are struck by the silence of every visitor who comes to see the wall — visitors never speak out loud and only whisper to each other in a quiet dignity while visiting. It is common to observe visitors who bring a piece of paper and a pencil and “copy” the posted name of a loved one by rubbing the pencil against the outline of the name. These quiet gestures, simple but powerful, convey the depth of our love and respect for these courageous men and women.
For those of our generation, it is difficult to believe that 50 years have passed. One wonders what we have learned as a result of this tragedy. Do we fully understand what are the costs of war and, in doing so, continue to honor the ultimate sacrifice made by so many of our soldiers.