Tuesday, July 12, 2011

War Memorials

Two Thoughts for Tuesday

Viet Nam Veteran's Statue

Thought #1

While I thoroughly enjoyed all the sights around Washington DC this week, I will say the war memorials were among the most moving for me personally. Nothing "shakes me to my core"  more than looking at the families that are doing their etchings of their loved one's name on the Viet Nam War Memorial wall. 

It is the Viet Nam Memorial in particular that I have a personal connection.  Those 58, 272 names were men and women that fought in a war that my brother, my friends, and my extended family took part in.

In 1969 both my brother and my boyfriend (now husband) enlisted in the Army.  The draft lottery was to start that year and my brother who was born in 1950 was the first year that the lottery was drawn for.  He would have been drafted had he not enlisted.  Immediately after boot camp by brother was sent to Viet Nam. He stayed there for 2 tours of duty which got him out in 2.5 years.

As I was still in high school and the fact the women weren't part of the draft kept my involvement limited primarily to the task of writing letters and shipping  boxes containing tins of cookies, jars of peanut butter and Kool Aid (to mask the taste of the crappy water) and a sundry of other things to help with the "awfulness" of that war.

Luckily, my brother came home two  and a half years later with a hand full of medals and a Purple Heart, BUT he did come home. 

Thought #2

Also, in 1969 my life moved forward.  I had another year of high school, got engaged, got married and by 1975 we lived in Kansas City, Mo.  We had a little girl that was 17 months old and a baby on the way. My husband was still in the military, although he was past being "active" and  was classified a reservist with the US Army.

We were expecting another baby  that was due to be born in April of 1975.  Unfortunately, things weren't going well with that pregnancy.  I had become very ill close to my due date and we were told that our baby had not survived.  Additionally, it wasn't looking particularly promising that I could survive the C Section to deliver our stillborn baby.  Nothing was going well on that score.  After an emergency C Section and a day and a half in a Intensive Care Unit, we learned that our baby had not been a stillborn birth but had been taken to the Neonatal nursery.  There seemed to be a lot of confusion as to who he belonged to which is why it took the better part of two days for us to learn of his survival.  In those days, stillborn births were scheduled on the General Surgery floors as to keep the mothers out of the happy place of the Maternity Wards.  I was on the General Surgery floor. When Kiddo #2 arrived at the neonatal nursery there wasn't a corresponding mother in the maternity ward.

And what does any of this have to do with a War Memorial you ask??? Kiddo #2 was born on the morning of April 23, 1975.  President Ford made "A War That Is Finished"  speech at Tulane University that day. The final end of the war was official one week later on April 30th.

looking at the wall

Some of the 58,272 names

Another one of the war memorials is the Korean War Memorial

19 stainless steel soldiers replicate a platoon on patrol
The 19 statues reflect off of a granite wall making it appear
as if 38 are there. 

Here are some assorted pictures from our trip. 

The Good for the Day...Hubby never went to Viet Nam.  He worked in personnel and did the paperwork of the men that were going there.

The Bad for the Day.. There was a lot of anti war sentiment with the Viet Nam War that made being a soldier very difficult.

The Weird for the Day... As I was standing at the wall, I was eavesdropping on some of the conversations.  I heard an young couple, probably in their late 20's, ask "when was the Viet Nam War?"

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AngelBaby said...

My husband went to the war like your brother but years earlier than him. He was there during the tet attack. I don't know if I spelled that right! It was really bad at that time. He made it back a little banged up but ok. It was a very bad time to be a soldier at that time, to say the least. Great post.

Love and Blessings,

Liggybee said...

Those are really nice pictures you took! And for a post you said you did hurriedly, I thought it was really good. I love how you ended it with the weird for the day ;)

I didn't put in any two thoughts this week, but I thought I'd check out everybody else today. Hope you have a great rest of the week!

Cheryl P. said...

AngelBaby, Were you married when he was over there? That had to have been REALLY stressful. You are right about it was a bad time for soldiers. That makes me really sad.

My brother came home banged up too. I am so grateful he came home though. Nearly everyone in his platoon didn't survive.

by the way...AngelBaby..your comments keep going into my spam folder and I keep authorizing for them not too. I am sorry they don't show up immediately like they should. I will continue to try and figure out why.

I love your comments and don't want them waylaid.

Cheryl P. said...

Thanks, Liggybee. I hate to be rushed but I don't want to drag out the vacation pics too long. That pretty much is all that I have had time to have thoughts about.

Thanks for stopping by and you have a great week too.

Annie (Lady M) x said...

Blimey, that was an interesting post and the pics are great. It is interesting to hear about people who have personal experiences about the Viet Nam war.

I can't believe what you went through with your baby ...... that was a horror, but I am so pleased it turned out well x

Cheryl P. said...

That absolutely was the scariest, saddest thing we have encountered in the 40 years of being married. I started having what they thought was a stroke and didn't think either the baby or I would survive. And LO and BEHOLD we both did but not before we went a about 36 hours thinking our baby had died. That pretty much decided for us "no more babies".

If you can find some sick humor in it though, now that Aaron is 36 years old we tease him that he is our stillborn kid so not to expect much from us. He, of course, says we better watch our step as he will be the one to make the decision on which home to put us in, in our old age.

Iluvbeingagrandpa said...

Hey, Love the pictures....they are so vivid, its like I was there. Neat

Nicky said...

Lovely pictures Cheryl, and an exceptionally touching post. I am glad that both you, your son and your brother all survived.

jayne said...

Oh come on... how could anyone not know when the Viet Nam War was? Are we not teaching history in schools?
I had the very same feeling--shaken to the core--at the Wall, Cheryl, when I first saw it in my early twenties. And even though no one in my family had been directly involved with the war, I couldn't stop crying. It's incredibly intense.
Great photos and stories, and so glad baby #2 arrived safely (Lordy that's a post in and of itself--I would have gone mad!)
Wonderful photos! :-)

Wolfbernz said...

Hi Cheryl
Sounds like a rough patch in those days but I am glad it all worked out for the best :)

I live ninety minutes from DC and have been there on countless field trips with the kids and when people come to visit us. Each time I go there I get the same feeling as you said... It is one of the most emotionally moving places I have been to. The war memorials are very sacred place indeed, nice post!

Click Click...


Cheryl P. said...

Glad you enjoyed them. Some of the better pics my hubby took.

Cheryl P. said...

Thanks Nicky, we were all a lucky bunch. Times were so different back then.
As they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Cheryl P. said...

I do have my doubts about some school systems. Are they not teaching it or are kids not retaining it because they think it doesn't affect their lives?

I don't get how people aren't shaken like you and I were. I agree that it is incredibly intense. I swear that some people must think this is the equivelant of a game or movie and don't appreciate that real men and women lost their lives.

Cheryl P. said...

If I lived that close I would have to hang out until I got through all the Smithsonian Museums, the galleries and the libraries. What a neat place to visit.

But, I agree, the War Memorials and Arlington are sacred places.

Trina said...

While I am sorry to read about your troubles, I am glad that because of those troubles you have become the person you are today. You write beautifully and are so very enchanting to read.

The war memorials are very moving - I actually got to visit the Vietnam Memorial wall last year. All the times I've been to DC that particular memorial evaded me. I was astounded by all the names and heart broken too. But, did you know that they keep and catalog nearly all of the items placed by the wall? I talked to a ranger that said there a huge warehouse of memorabilia that is full of things like dog-tags and wedding rings and pictures and newspaper clippings that are all pertinent to the memories of those fallen or lost. But the length of the wall and the sheer number of names brings tears to the eyes and pain in the heart (even if I wasn't around during the war)


Jewell said...

Well...I have nothing to add to what I said when you posted your last bit of vaca pictures. I have taken pictures of many of the things that you showed here...

I do love the Korean War Memorial...the statues are incredible to see in person. It hadn't been built when I went to DC in HS with my choir group. I caught it when I went back with hubby last year. No picture could ever do the statues justice! I tried to get a picture at the start of the (Korean) memorial wall where it has the engravings of the faces. I didn't realize it when I took the picture, but looking at it you can see a reflection of the backs of some of the veterans who were there to see it...I'm attaching an image so you can see it =) I thought it was kind of cool.

Cool fact...the ampitheater that you have a picture of that was directly opposite the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? I sang there with my choir group in HS. It was our last performance of our trip, we sang the National Anthem. It was our best performance (on very little sleep) and we all bawled when we were done. It was powerful on a deep level for all of us. It was crazy on so many levels to stand there last year where I stood in HS and sang for a scant few tourists waiting for the Changing of the Guard ceremony...

Ok, well it was a cool fact for me. =) lol Not so much for anyone else probably. =)

Madge said...

I was born in 1971 my husband in 1955, he graduated from high school in 1973. I don't know how he was able to avoid the draft or not be forced to enlist, he always told me that the war was over by the time he had graduated. We didn't really study the Viet Nam war in school, I'm not sure why.

Those are great pictures, nice job.

Cheryl P. said...

You are right about the pictures not doing it justice. I tried all kinds of angles but my reflection kept showing up in the pic and I don't want me in the pictures. I hate pictures of myself. The reflection of the statues in the Korean War Memorial wall is something though.

You just have a myriad of talents, my friend. A singer too. I was in several choirs in HS but I wouldn't sing solo unless someone was holding a gun to my head. AND if I started to sing they would pull the trigger.

The reflection in your picture is probably one of the veterans. wow...I love your pics.

Cheryl P. said...

I didn't know that about the articles left at the wall. How interesting!!! Those artifacts left there would be interesting to see. A lot of really sad stories are connected to that wall. Heartbreaking for sure.

Cheryl P. said...

Talk about luck! yes, the lottery ended with the last drawing in 1972. The guys that would be draft eligible for 1973 got switched over to voluntary enlistment status. To participate in the drawing the best years to have been born were 1950-1954. Not that most men wanted to be a "winner" of that lottery.

The war was still going on in 1973-April 1975. The government was relying on enlisted soldiers.

What a shame they aren't teaching people the history of that war. It started in 1955, lasted til 1975 and killed more than 3 MILLION by most estimates.
Really a sad time in our history.

Madge said...

Thank you for the history lesson. I had no idea. Looks like I need to do some googling. ;)

Cheryl P. said...

I hope that didn't sound preachy. That wasn't my intent. I graduated in 1970 so I was in the thick of it and that's why I know a lot about Viet Nam. Well, that and my boyfriend/husband and brother were involved in the military then.

Madge said...

No! Not preachy at all, I really had no idea, so you totally schooled me :)

bodaciousboomer said...

Holy shit! That mixup with your baby was just awful. Thank God it turned out like it did, but still...

jacqui said...

I love your photos. I'm so glad your brother came back. And that your baby was ok...that was scary stuff.

Cheryl P. said...

It was a really stressful but with such a happy ending, I hesitate to complain.

Cheryl P. said...

Thanks jacqui...it was scary but it turned out that kiddo #2 is always in the middle of a dust storm. If something can go wrong, it happens to him. The good part is that he always gets through it, unscathed most of the time.

meleahrebeccah said...

Oh, these photos are incredible. And, thank goodness your brother came back. I couldn't handle the stress of the baby mix-up! NO WAY.

And um....please tell me this did NOT really happen:

"I was eavesdropping on some of the conversations. I heard an young couple, probably in their late 20's, ask "when was the Viet Nam War?"

Cheryl P. said...

No it really did. Of course, I just can't keep my mouth shut so I went over there and said "Sorry, I couldn't help but over hear and blah, blah, blah, gave them the rundown on how it lasted 20 years, with 3 million deaths and ended April 30th 1975. They probably flipped me off when I walked away.

Also, my friend, I am sending you a message to your facebook wall today. I just read something I found that you and I will both be pissed off about.

Jewell said...

LOL - well I'm not a GREAT singer! Smoking has pretty well taken any maybe, kinda sort, little bit of talent I might have had. I can still sing a tune though. I had one time where I had a solo during one of our chorus concerts. I about passed out....AND....I fucked it all up. I'm fine when I can hide behind group of other people or the radio! =)

meleahrebeccah said...

What? What are WE both going to be mad about?

*sorry for the delayed reply. Been crazy busy!

Cheryl P. said...

I sent you a private message on Facebook that was just a rant about the offers of books and appearances for the world's worst mother. You are one of the few people that I felt would appreciate how pissed I was to see her possibly making money off of being evil.

meleahrebeccah said...

Oh!! Okay!