On Veterans’ Day, we visited the Traveling Wall which was brought to the small park next to the Senior Friendship Center in Sarasota. It is a representation of The Wall in Washington D.C., a part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Originally, it had 58,195 names indicating those involved in the Vietnam War and were either KIA (Killed In Action) or MIA (Missing In Action). The names are listed chronologically from 1959 to 1968 and, as of May 2011, there are 58,272 names. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs uses May 7, 1975 as the official end date for the Vietnam era. On May 15, 1975, eighteen U.S. servicemen were killed on the final day of a rescue operation. These appear as the last names listed on the timeline.
It is really quite an experience to see. Many who knew or had lost loved ones named on “The Wall” have left “An Expression of Love” in memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Major Michael Davis O’Donnell (who was KIA 2/7/1978) wrote this:
“If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own.
And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.”