Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day: Names

(Vietnam Veterans Memorial far left, photo by Jane Heitman Healy 2012)

On a trip to Washington, DC, colleagues and I toured the Mall one evening. School groups' boisterous enthusiasm overflowed in noise at the Lincoln Memorial in spite of signs requesting reverence. At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, though, they walked by quietly. 

What made the difference? I don't know for sure, but many of them may have had relatives who served in that war. The somber black stone, so grave-like, may have dampened their spirits. But it could be the names, row upon row, making sacrifice real and personal.

(photo by Jane Heitman Healy 2012)

I first saw those names on the Vietnam Traveling Wall, and I was struck then, as I was again seeing the real Wall, that the names represent many ethnic groups, from indigenous North Americans to people whose ancestors emigrated to the U.S. We cannot tell a person's race, religion, socioeconomic status, or IQ. We can only read names of women and men who served our country to preserve liberty and justice for all. Whether in military service or not, we should all strive to make "liberty and justice for all" a reality.

Thank you to all of those who have served or are now serving in the US Armed Forces. I especially remember my dad and father-in-law who served in World War II. I dedicate this post to Charles Rael, who served for over 22 years, primarily in the Middle East.