Every now and then, I have the opportunity to capture something very moving. On this particular morning, someone had carefully placed fresh carnations in the hands of two of the soldiers in the sculpture. I have visited this memorial before; but on this beautiful, quiet, sunny morning, the combination of the placement of the flowers coupled with the diffusion of sunlight through the canopy of green leaves created a mood that touched me personally.
The red and jagged petals made me deeply aware of the life that was quickly slipping away through this young man’s open wound. The soldier holding him, desperately working to slow his bleeding looks down at him as would a mother who was losing her own son. The soldier who apparently has spotted an approaching helicopter, stands reaching toward it with her heart, as though it could pull the helicopter to the ground in time to save her fellow soldier. Entranced, my attention moved to the soldier on the opposite side of the memorial. Her look of sadness and despair felt chillingly real to me, as she stares at the dying soldier's helmet, knowing that yet another American son would more than likely die that day.
I am sure many thousands before me have been moved similarly, especially those who have lived through combat. The true gift of these memorials lies in the artist’s ability to transport us to a place like the one depicted here, where horrible pain and suffering took place, to remind us of our responsibility as citizens to do all that we can to prevent the tragedies of war. I hope these photos express the tragic intimacy of this beautiful and touching memorial.
This fall, America celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Vietnam Women's Memorial on the National Mall. Located just south of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, the monument honors the more than 265 thousand women who volunteered to serve in the armed forces during the war. According to the Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation, nearly 10,000 of the women served in combat zones, some of them making the ultimate sacrifice as did their brethren. This memorial not only honors the women service members, but it also honors the families who lost loved ones in the war, according to the Foundation. This moving sculpture provides a venue for citizens and visitors to learn about the brave women who provided care and comfort to the thousands of service members injured and those who suffered and died during the war.
The Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation website details the schedule of events for the 20th anniversary celebration this fall during Veterans Day weekend, November 9 - 11. Visit the site for more information.
This memorial is moving and heart-warming, and it I recommend included it as a part of your next visit to the National Mall. And if you plan to be in the area November 9th, join the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation for the kickoff of the official events, starting at 9:00 a.m.