If you have ever visited any of the War Memorials in Washington DC then I don't have to tell you what a moving experience it can be. As the daughter of a 1961 West Point Grad and Army Infantry Officer I have a personal connection to one memorial in particular, the Vietnam Memorial. I am fortunate to say that my dad's name does not appear on this memorial, but I have friends who can't say the same. So it was a moving experience to say the least when I visited "the Vietnam Wall" for the first time in 1988.

My father had been stationed at the Pentagon when it was being built and had visited it right when it was finished. He told me it was one of the most beautiful tributes to our soldiers he had ever seen. He was overwhelmed by it's design and ability to captivate you. Knowing my dad had been moved this much by a memorial meant I knew I had to go some day.

I actually traveled to the wall one night around 11pm with a friend and fellow Army Brat. Back in those days it was not uncommon to "monument hop" at night. We weren't alone either there were tour buses doing the same thing. The night air and the lighting added an extra element to the experience. We chatted as we approached and then as the wall unfolded the imagery and a silence fell over us like I imagine the artist/architect Maya Lin who designed the wall had intended it too.

When you come upon the wall it is only ankle high, as you begin to read the names you done realize right away that the wall is growing. As you walk the wall rises above you to a height of 10 plus feet, the names become almost too numerous to read, then as you reach the end you are once again above the wall and you realize you have traveled past what is as of May 2014, 58,300 names of men and women who gave their lives for this great country at a time when it wasn't easy to be in the service of this country. Not everyone agreed on Vietnam but that's a different blog.

One of things that strikes you as you walk is the number of things people have left behind in tribute to the men and women whose names are etched before you in the black rock walls. My friend and I wondered what happens to all of these things? Turns out the non perishable items are collected by the National Park Serviced and archived but not available to the public. I can't imagine what that inventory list must look like but thank god some one cares enough to keep it all safe and sound.

So this memorial day pay tribute to our brave Service Men and Women who have gone before us and plan a family trip to Washington DC.

George Jones - 50,000 Names

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