Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Some folks are off work, school is out and for some, the official summer season begins. People will have picnics and be glad it’s a holiday. I would ask that you pause and consider the true meaning of this day.
In Washington DC a black wall stands with 58,320 names carved into it. It represents my generations war, the war I spent north of the city of Hue with the 101st. Airborne Division. But I came home alive, so tomorrow is not in any way about me.
Please read this and think about it.
On Independence Day, 1966, nine of the high school graduates of the little mining town of Morenci, AZ., joined the Marine Corps as a group. All nine went to Vietnam, three came home alive. Robert Dale Draper -19, Stan King-21, Alfred Van Whitmer-21, Larry J. West-19, Jose Moncayo-22, and Clive Garcia-22, were killed. Notice that two of those surnames are Hispanic.
The youngest American killed in action was Dan Bullock age 15
The oldest killed in action was Dwaine McGriff age 63
5 servicemen killed were only 16 years old
12 servicemen killed were only 17 years old
226 Native Americans were killed
8 women’s names are on the wall
40 sets of brothers were killed
25,000 of the servicemen killed were 20 years or younger
17,000 of the servicemen killed were married
There are far more casualties whose names are not on the wall. The New York Times has written that it is estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 Vietnam vets have committed suicide.
Countless thousands of servicemen have died as a result of the 19,000,000 gallons of Agent Orange sprayed over Vietnam. It’s estimated that 400,000 Vietnamese people died as a result of Agent Orange.
This is what Monsanto said about their product in 2004. Nearly 30 years after the war ended. – “We are sympathetic with people who believe they have been injured and understand their concern to find the cause, but reliable evidence indicates that Agent Orange is not the cause of serious long-term health effects.”
The thousands of victims of that companies poison are not on the wall.
So tomorrow, stop for a moment, take just one minute to truly realize the effects of just one of our wars. In total millions died, not just our men and women, but men and women from across the world. Millions of mothers, father, sons, daughters, wives and children continue to be effected yet today because of that war. That is what tomorrow represents.
“I try not to think of them as being on The Wall, but how I knew them before they got there.” Gene Harris, Vietnam vet
Go Well – David