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Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Wall @ Small Stories and Stuff

I know School Marm, Jenny Matlock, likes to see stories and poems on Saturday Centus, but this week’s prompt, “The wall was built long ago,” led me toward a small personal essay. To learn all about Saturday Centus, please click on the button on my sidebar. You can't miss it!

Here is my offering for this week.

I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on Veteran’s Day, 1993, the year the Women's Memorial was dedicated. Clint met with some of the people from his unit, the field hospital in Saigon. During 13 months together, they cared for young GIs, sending some to R&R, others home in body bags.

I was overwhelmed by the simplicity of the wall, engraved as it is with thousands of names, it stretched gracefully across the grass.

It was hot, dozens of people milling around, many of them openly weeping, searching for names of loved ones lost. The directory led me to the name I had come to see - Lamar Smith - dead just two months after deployment, right out of high school.

Lamey, as we called him, was a dear boy. Senior year, he had a crush on me and when I had my appendix out, he came every day after school to sit with me in hospital.

I wept as I traced his name.

He was not “college material,” and if he had lived, he would likely have gone to work for one of the local plants, but he may have come home motivated to persue a loftier career. He never had the chance to know.

© cj Schlottman

Addendum: When you go to The Wall, please also visit the Women's Memorial, a moving bronze of nurses ministering to a wounded soldier, a monument to their dedication and perseverance. I'm sorry it took so long for the Memorial to be erected. 250,000 women served in Vietnam - every one of them a volunteer.