single frame: Vietnam Veterans Memorial at night

Vietnam War memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial at night
Canon PowerShot S95

I’m not easily moved by memorials, but the Vietnam Veterans Memorial brought me to tears the first time I saw it.

That was on my first visit to Washington, DC, in 1993. I was small when the Vietnam conflict ended. My main memories of it are the news bulletins that kept interrupting Captain Kangaroo, telling of cease fires as the conflict sputtered to its end. I hadn’t even a vague idea of how this war split our country. I didn’t learn of it until middle-school history class, and by then it was 1980.

But to see the names, in excess of 58,000 — it brought directly home to me what an enormous loss this conflict created in our country.


12 responses to “single frame: Vietnam Veterans Memorial at night”

  1. davidscorbett Avatar

    war should be about taking out the worst leaders starting wars n the people helping them be bad, not many young men killing many young men

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Sometimes there really is no other way. I’m no war hawk, but sometimes war is both necessary and inevitable.

  2. Heide Avatar

    Everyone I know who has visited this memorial echoes your sentiments, Jim. What a tragic period in our country’s history.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      In the last several years I’ve become deeply interested in 20th century history, especially American history. I haven’t begun to look into the Vietnam War era yet. I feel like I need to steel myself for it.

      1. Heide Avatar

        Indeed, Jim — many of the soldiers’ stories are harrowing. And there are so many historical perspectives on it, depending on whom you ask. But for my money this is the best account I’ve seen yet:

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          If it’s as good as the series he did on WW II, then I’m in.

  3. M.B. Henry Avatar

    Beautiful capture.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you!

  4. Scott Bennett Avatar
    Scott Bennett

    I visited the memorial in 1995. I bawled my eyes out from one end to the other and back again.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Isn’t it shocking how moving this memorial is?

  5. Denny Gibson Avatar

    The first time I saw the memorial was at night and I recall being very impressed with the flashlight carrying volunteers who happily helped find names and make rubbings. The impression made by the monument itself is without equal in my experience.

    You may have already seen my take on the Ken Burns series that Heide recommends (and so do I) but I’ll share a pointer here anyway:

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This memorial really is surprising in how moving it is. I’ve yet to see a photograph that can transmit that — you really have to see it in person.

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