AAR Suffolk Bald Hill Dignity Vietnam Memorial Wall

Today was a day of solemn remembrance at Bald Hill on Long Island.  It was the final day that the Dignity Vietnam Memorial Wall would be in place and a few of us decided to make the run out there to visit it in person.  Finding it was easy.  Just get on the highway and fall in behind a group of bikers with American flags on the backs of their bikes!  Better than autopilot!

The threatening skies kept large crowds away, but a respectable turnout was there searching for and making rubbings of the names of friends, family and loved ones.  It is always moving to be in the presence of this memorial, even the smaller traveling versions, but it is not just the memorial itself that moves me.  It is the visitors.  Each has a story to go with a name or names on that wall.  No one will ever compile a complete list of them all but each and every one of those stories would paint a picture of a living, breathing hero who laid down his or her life for us all.

I have no names of immediate family or friends on that wall.  My brothers, cousins and friends all survived those years and went on to live lives of their own.  That does not diminish the emotion I feel as I walk along, reading random names and silently reciting a prayer for them and their families.  For each and every one of them, by virtue of their sacrifice, have become my family and I will honor their memory as if they were my own brothers and sisters.  Each visit to the original wall or to one of the traveling memorials I pick up on one or two names that stick in my memory.  Today it was Richard Chambers whose name was sought by family and friends who spoke it aloud just as I passed them and had just read the name myself.  Then it was George Adams who I came to know through a disabled Vietnam veteran who was looking at it from his wheelchair.  Realizing his dilemna my brother and I offered to make a rubbing of the name, which sat low on the wall, for him.  I don’t know who those men were, but the fact that there were people searching them out told me all that I needed to know.  They were heroes.

Photos of the day are here.

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