I have always been a deeply passionate person, someone who fervently defends her ideals with a sharp mind and wise tongue. I rarely find myself conflicted over taking a certain position on any given topic. As a result there are very few circumstances where I am able to abandon certain political principles for a deeper personal ideal, but it does happen. Memorial Day and the values it espouses is one such circumstance.
Throughout the first couple of days in DC several people recommended that visiting certain memorials at night would provide a very different experience of DC than in the daylight. Knowing the Memorial Day weekend was coming up I decided to check out some of the memorials Friday night. The anticipation had been building throughout the week as I heard thousands of Harley’s thunder through the streets of DC (a beautifully loud reminder of my hometown) and I knew there was no other place to go than the war memorials.
The experience of entering the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is something I will never forget. As I heard vets recalling memories of missing brothers I could hear the ever present pain in their deep and cracking voices. As they prayed around the names of men on the wall – stating for the countless time that they will never be forgotten – the survivors embraced one another with a profound sadness and simultaneous joy. Grieving without shame and being around those who know what it is like to have lived in that theater is the experience of the Wall, but that same experience did not translate to the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
As I made my way to the Women’s Memorial I was surprised by the relatively quiet walk. There was no mass of bodies weaving in and out of one another trying not to disturb an impromptu prayer or memorial session or people politely asking a park ranger to do a name rubbing, in fact during the half an hour I spent reading the wreaths and letters left to honor the women of the memorial I only saw fifteen people stop by the statue. While I understand that the number of women involved in Vietnam is a relatively small percentage of the total number of soldiers who fought, their experiences have been largely ignored. The memorial is a wonderful testament to the tragedy women faced in combat situations and I hope more people take the time to visit.
You can visit the Vietnam Women’s Memorial website at http://www.vietnamwomensmemorial.org/
The Intro is beautiful.
P.S. Since the website’s Intro is not accessible for those with vision impairments, here is a description:
(As the Intro loads a waving flag icon with the words Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation)
265,000 women served during the Vietnam War…
all of them volunteers.
(Three pictures of women in uniform)
10,000 women served within combat alongside their brother soldiers.
Some…whose names are on the wall… gave their lives.
Honoring the commitment, dedication, and courage of all women who served during Vietnam…
The Vietnam Women’s Memorial
(Three photos of the statue appear on the page)
A legacy of healing and hope.
(As main page loads the waving flag icon with the words Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation appears)