To the Editor:
On my first visit, it was dark. The cold drizzle made “The Wall” look even darker. I sat on a marble bench staring at, yet not reading, the names. So many names. Names of family members, friends and unknowns of my generation. The names were difficult to read because of the heavy mist. I decided not to try. Through the darkness came a light. It was the glow of a lantern carried by a battle clad vet. Again, as done years before, he volunteered his service.
“May I help you find a name, sir?”
“No, there are just too many. So many lost.”
He sat down beside me, sharing the silence.
“Did you serve, sir?”
I knew his mind took him to Khe Sanh, Hue or Tet.
My thoughts returned to D.C., Chicago and Kent State.
“May I ask where you served, sir?”
“In the streets.”
Time stopped. After a lifetime, he stood to depart. He faced me with a sad, faraway look and said, “I understand.”
My breaking heart and voice replied, “I never will.”
I realized that it had stopped raining. The cold drizzle on my face were now tears.
I’ve seen “The Wall” several times since that night. Never as clearly, but always with the same result.