A Note From The Author: I wrote this essay in the sixth grade. I mentioned this essay in my second blog post I published here at Seeking Redress (it was the first that I actually wrote, it was what drove me to start this site), and will be mentioning it again in another post I’m publishing today discussing an important Memorial Day event. Since this essay played such a role in one of my most vivid memories of my father, and it demonstrates my changing understanding of war and how we memorialize it, I thought I’d just go ahead and share it. Please forgive the naivete, I was pretty young and only beginning my long journey into researching that painful chapter in history.
The Remembrance of a Nightmare
The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial started as just a dream for Jan C. Scruggs but it became a reality just the same. Scruggs asked Senator John W. Warner for $5,000.00 to start building the memorial. Senator Warner gave the requested $5,000.00 and earned another $50,000.00 within weeks. So the soon-to-be-great memorial was built.
On the paneled sides of the wall are printed about 58,000 names of the soldiers who died in the Vietnam War or who remain missing, in the order that the clutches of war finally tore the life out of them. The people who remain missing are marked by a simple, but important, cross that is circled if the person is found. 1300 of the names are those of missing soldiers.
This memorial has touched the lives of many people across America. They see a familiar name that triggers their memory and tears flood from their eyes. It comes as no surprise that the memorial has become one of the most visited memorials in Washington.
A book will be published called To Heal A Nation by Jan Scruggs and Joel L. Swerdlow. [This book was already published when I wrote this essay, and can be found on Amazon.] It will, like the memorial, list all the names of these great men.
The people love the memorial and will probably love the book as well. It is only obvious by the look of gratitude on the people’s faces that they greatly appreciate America’s respect for the men who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country they loved. Many people have read the names of the veterans and have relived the nightmare of Vietnam in 1961-1971. Many memories have been spurred by this long granite wall called The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial.