08 June 2008

What "The Wall" means to me

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the moving wall. This was the first time that I had seen the wall in person and it was an emotional experience for me. With some help I was able to find the panel with the names of all the men we lost on Sept. 21st, 1967. I took pictures and made impressions of all the names and for a few minutes I was back there with them. But I was also back there when we lost them. Maybe it was a flashback, I don't know, but that's what I was thinking of as I was leaving.
There was a lady there from the local television station, and she stopped me and asked if I would do an interview on camera for her. I told her that I would if I could have some time to think about it. She said that she was leaving soon and needed to do it now. I asked her if we could do it in the morning because I really wasn't in the mood to talk about it at that time. She said she wouldn't be there in the morning, so she got someone else to do it. So I missed my chance to tell my little corner of the world what "The Wall" means to me. So I want to tell you now what it means to me.
What I should have said was that the wall is a symbol of many things to different people. It means many things to me also. It takes me back to be with my friends, my brothers in arms, some of whom I came to love as a brother. Their death hit just as hard as if they were a part of my family back home. And so when I stand back and look at the wall with it's over 58,000 names, I think of what might have been. Just as each Mother, Father, Husband, Wife, Sister or Brother must think of what might have been if their loved one had made it home. They all had dreams and plans, just as each person represented on the wall had their own dreams and plans of what they would do when they got back to "The World". So the wall represents what might have been. The dreams and plans unfulfilled, the children and grandchildren never born. Unknown generations lost, their contributions to family and our country never realized. So in one sense, the wall represents not only the loss of the over 58,000 men and women, but the loss of untold numbers of generations that might have been and all the dreams, plans and hopes that go with them.
But ultimately, I think "The Wall" is a symbol of love. The Bible says " For no greater love hath a man than to give his life for his friend". We, who were in combat, were ready at any time to risk our lives for the man next to us. And why were we there in the first place? Because we loved our country, and our families and our way of life. We went and served for these reasons. And over 58,000 died for these reasons and to help make the world a better place for those that come after us. So, I wish I had taken the opportunity to tell the world these things and that each of you that reads this will look at the Wall in a new light, the light of love.


Christine said...

Each of you have fulfilled His purpose with flying colors. No need to look back with regret. Welcome Home!

Christine said...

Thank you Bill for writing such a beautiful tribute.