September 20, 2011

The Traveling Memorial

"It doesn't require any particular bravery to stand 
on the floor of the Senate and urge our boys in Vietnam 
to fight harder, and if this war mushrooms into 
a major conflict and a hundred thousand young 
Americans are killed, it won't be U.S. Senators who die.  
It will be American soldiers who are too young 
to qualify for the Senate."  

~George McGovern
My first try at "Texture Tuesday."  I used the Life is Good texture, and then added a watercolor effect.

Last week, our valley was privileged to have the Traveling Vietnam Veteran's Memorial brought to the local fairgrounds, an 80% sized replica of the original. 

My dad served in Vietnam, and I remember looking at yellowing black and white photos of him and the friends he served with, shirts off, cigarettes in hand, hamming it up for the camera.  Even though you could tell they were goofing around in the photos, every pair of eyes still held a haunted look, one that I imagine hasn't changed for our troops in the field today.  

It took many years for that look to leave my dad's face, and I still have never heard him personally talk about it.  Everything I know of his time there comes from my mom, the story told in a hushed voice how many of the men he served with, his brothers in arms, died in a shot-down helicopter the day after he was discharged and sent home. 

I also grew up hearing stories of how Vietnam veterans were treated when they came home - truly despicable.  My husband is a veteran of the conflict with Ferdinand Marcos in the Phillipines back in the 80's.  My uncle served in Iraq in the ongoing war there, and our son Josh previously served a stint in Iraq and is now in Afghanistan.  I have seen that same look on all their faces... I try to imagine them being treated like the Vietnam vets were, and it literally breaks my heart.  

This was a beautiful tribute, and I'm so glad that I got the chance to see it.  I still long to see the original in Washington, D.C., but until then, I have this memory...

Photos of the "Utah Fallen."

Gold dog tags for every U.S. troop member who has died in the War on Terror.