Monday, May 27, 2019

Letters to the Wall

Veterans For Peace 2019 Memorial Day ceremony, NYC
(photo/Jan Barry)

Today, members and friends of Veterans For Peace are placing envelopes at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC containing letters to and for the dead to be shared with visitors paying respects this Memorial Day to the ghosts whose names grace that wall. The letters were written by veterans, military family members, war protestors, peace activists—all stirred to speak by the consequences of the endless, dinning drums of war—from across America.

Here is my contribution to this grassroots commemoration of what we’ve lost to war. I read it yesterday at a gathering of Veterans For Peace members and friends at the Battery in New York City. The event included a procession carrying a flag-draped coffin from war memorial to war memorial to war memorial. Around us swirled crowds of people from around the world boarding and departing tour boats to the Statue of Liberty. Battlefields where American soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and women in uniform died span the world. The names of all the dead could fill a wall beyond imagination. Just imagine the life cut short of one name. 

At the Wall in Washington

The Vietnam Wall is where the dead
Greet the living eye to eye—
Face it, your eyes
Staring back from the black marble
Framing a soldier’s name—
Your soul and his startlingly entwined

Jan Barry
US Army Vietnam 1962-63