"We met as soul-mates / On Parris Island
We left as inmates / From an asylum.
And we were sharp / As sharp as knives
And we were so gung-ho to lay down our lives..
...And we would all go down together,
We said we'd all go down together."
- Billy Joel, "Goodnight Saigon"
The first time you view the Vietnam Wall, it's a little hard to process. So many names, each representing a human being who went off to serve our country and didn't come home. Unlike today's military volunteers, most of those young men and women were drafted, forced to fight a war that many people did not agree with. Even so, they stood up to fight when America called them. Of those who survived, thousands came home maimed, disabled. Almost all came home damaged in ways not visible. And more than 58,000 paid the ultimate price.
This Veteran's Day, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Wall will stand at attention in Magnolia, the only Texas host city in 2013. If you've ever visited the actual Vietnam Wall in Washington DC, you already know how strikingly emotional the visual impact of 58,000+ names can be. It stirs feelings you don't expect. For veterans of any war, the names represent the toll that war takes, the human sacrifice that each Vet has personally witnessed. For those who fought in Vietnam, the Wall is an opportunity to remember and honor those who battled beside them and to help them on their lifelong journey of healing. And for those of us who are not veterans, a visit to the Wall is a way to express our deep gratitude to those who served and died on our behalf.
The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall is a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. It stands six feet tall at the center and stretches almost 300 feet from end to end.
For those who can't make it to Washington DC to view the actual Vietnam Wall, take a trip to Magnolia, TX. There's no better way to observe Veteran's Day this year.
Where: Magnolia Apostolic Church/First Baptist Church Grounds
When: Friday, November 8 - Monday, November 11; 9am-9pm.
Admission is free.