John’s Recon

January 18, 2010

The Vietnam Memorial

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Prichard @ 7:35 pm

Last July we vacationed in Washington DC. We had quite a fun time visiting Memorials and Museums and just looking at the wonderful architecture. We were there when Senator Kennedy had just died so the flags were all at half mast. I have many pictures of both the museums and the memorials and these can be seen in this folder.

Because I was drafted into and was part of the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Memorial is a little more special to me. I have seen it before by myself which was the recommended way (by some of my vet friends) to see it for the first time. They were right … as jaded as one has become over the years … they will still be overcome by emotion especially if there are a lot of other emotional people there. This time I went with my wife and held it together even though she was strongly moved.

You see there are a lot of grand memorials in DC but the Vietnam Memorial provides simply a stronger connection to those individuals that have lost their lives. I decided that I would take pictures this time and attempt to pay the memorial tribute in some little way. It is somewhat misunderstood since it doesn’t have grand sculptures … but if you see it you will feel it.

When you approach the memorial you really don’t see it since most of it is below ground level. We were fortunate since it had rained and was drizzling so there were few people. It starts at ground level and then goes down. The deepest part is where the wall is tallest and is the center of the war that went from 1959 – 1975. Soldier’s names are engraved into the black granite in the order of their death. So the soldier on the farthest to the left died first … this is where you can start. There are 5 names to a line and 137 lines to a panel at the deepest part. I have dark-lighted the wall in some of the pictures for the time period that I was there which was just under a year. If you click on a picture you will get a larger version.

This picture is looking at the center of the war (and wall) while approaching the entrance.
7281 Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC
As you walk into the memorial the names on the panel get higher and higher. This picture was taken on the way out … near the end of the war.
7280 Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC
In the center section, the panels are about 12 feet tall … about 140 lines tall.
7279 Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC
When you are close to the wall, the names rise above you. If you start reading them it can crush your heart to know every one of them was a 19 – 22 year old kid that had a bright future ahead of him.
7278 Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC
The dark-lighted part are the names of the soldiers who died while I was there from Dec 28, 1970 to Nov 21, 1971.
7277 Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC
It it weren’t raining and before 9am, the reflection would show dozens of people with tears in their eyes.
7274 Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC
Because we learned not to remember anything but the first names of soldiers we fought with, I do not know the last names of fallen friends. So instead, I thought I would give you the name of the first soldier who died on Dec 28, 1970, the day I got there. Robert Arnall died in Thua Thien, South Vietnam by small arms fire. His body was recovered. He was drafted in the army and was a Corporal with the 101st Airborne. His name is on the 5th panel going west – line 12.
7274 Robert D Arnall, Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC
No one died the day I left, Nov 21, 1971 which was my birthday. Ronnie Sharpe was the last soldier to die on Nov 20, 1971. He died in Binh Duong, South Vietnam by small arms fire. His body was recovered. He was regular army and was a Private First Class with the 1st Cavalry. His name is on the 2nd panel going west – line 71.
7274 Ronnie Sharpe, Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC
There is hardly any difference between Vietnam and our current guerrilla war tactically. It still wastes away soldiers with little changing results. However, there is a big difference from the American people …  when I returned to the US through the Oakland, California compound, I was spat at by a young lady in the anti-war movement because I went when my country drafted me. All returning soldiers that I knew grew out their hair and hid the fact that they ever went for several years. The country has learned a lot about war since then even if our politicians haven’t.

Addendum: I thought the memorial for the women of Vietnam was very well done … it is located very near the Vietnam Memorial. Unfortunately the lighting and drizzle made for awful conditions to take photographs. So please excuse the color.
7282 Vietnam Women's Memorial, Washington, DC
7283 Vietnam Women's Memorial, Washington, DC

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