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The Moving Wall - A tribute to those left behind from the Vietnam War- REPOST

posted 5/24/2008 12:06:45 AM |
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I thought this was appropriate to repost this weekend. I read it to a crowd of almost 200 who packed a downtown bar at Crab Festival last night for our Annual Poetry Event.

I wrote this in 8 days while the wall was here in June 2006. It was recorded and has a streaming version available at my local public radio station


The Moving Wall
(Final Edition)

It has traveled widely across this land
On Kodiak Island it now stands
The Moving Wall, in Baranof Park
For seven days, through dawn and dark

The names are etched upon the wall
Family, friends, strangers come to call
To view the names of loved ones lost
The Vietnam War's tremendous cost

Too many reasons for why they're here
To say goodbye, to shed a tear
Solace, closure, a state of grace
Conflicting emotions on every face

A smiling woman scans the book
She finds the name for which she looks
Her legs buckle where she stands
Overwhelmed by sobs and shaking hands

A volunteer stands by in a yellow vest
Providing aid, comfort, and a place to rest
Open ears and understanding shrugs
Receptive arms, tissues, lots of hugs

A brother comes to walk the wall
Amid the list of fifty-eight thousand souls
He finds the name of the one he seeks
He returns from the field in silence, he cannot speak

A group of students, about high school age
Come into the tent to view a page
Such young minds, an impact expressed
Questions they asked left me impressed

A young man was turned away today
It was Frisbee on the field he wanted to play
While meaning no intentional disrespect
He showed no regard for those it would affect


After the opening ceremony, began the roll call
Of the names that are honored on the Memorial Wall
Continuing day and night until every name has been read
In solemn remembrance, for the ones now dead

A friend recently visited the wall in DC
A name listed too high there to imprint her honoree
Tonight I rubbed him here onto a precious slip
In tomorrows post, out it will ship

I met a woman out there in the rain
She told me that walking the wall was easing her pain
So many she knew had given their life
Many had left when she was a young wife

Comments recorded, printed in ink
Caused me to cry and made me think
Pages filled with gratitude, pain and sorrow within
Healing emotional scars can now begin


A volunteer comes to read war's claims
Real people remembered, not faceless names
Emotions run high as with blurred sight
He fights back tears, must do it right

The wall stands black, sleek and proud
Rain drizzles down, nature’s solemn shroud
Panels numbered from center out, east and west
To aid those who seek loved ones on their quest

Two young girls return to ask what the emblems mean
A simple cross in front for those still not seen
Diamonds displayed for those now confirmed
The ones we know that will never return

A father brings his sons to see
To honor those who fought to keep them free
Children learn things they are too young to know
About this war from long ago

Pools of tears well up in a mother’s eyes as she places kisses
Tenderly upon the names of the ones she misses
A smile appears as she turns her face
Words of thanks for bringing them home to this place

Veterans come to grieve in the dead of the night
To say goodbye to comrades fallen in this fight
Seeking closure, solitude, emotional release
Without the crowds to disturb their peace

A couple walks the wall, their hands combined
Clutching a list of names they hope to find
A name located, they turn and embrace each other
Then they return to their search for yet another

A man he kneels before a name
Fingers tracing it over and over again
He whispers to me in a shaky voice
It should have been me, if I’d had a choice


A woman came to find one she has missed
He was the first boy she ever kissed
His name rubbed she took today
A cherished memory to tuck away

A sister and her brother looked so sad
Grown kids who never knew their Dad
They came to the wall on Father's Day
To touch his name and quietly pray

Silence fills the park once more
As the last name is called from this terrible war
Tears glisten in the eyes as the reader calls
The last lost soul listed upon the wall

An angry man curses why they fell
Still tormented in a private hell
He wrings his hands, trying to express his grief
Years of time having offered no relief


One woman comes by every day
Her head bowed down as she prays
A silent vigil that she keeps
For all the men here in their untimely sleep

Veterans hug, some stand proud and tall
Brought together by the wall
Battle tales of fallen comrades they share
Long lost friends, reunited here

A man comes to ease his pain
Tears on his face hidden by the rain
He turns to the wall in silent tribute
And offers up a reverent salute


Daylight fades as darkness creeps
Most of the town lay now asleep
Illuminated beams cast soft do show
Names on the wall begin to glow

Bathed in a rain softened haze of artificial light
A shadow companion emerges from the night
Where a lone volunteer walks in the early morn
Two men step now before first dawn

Stars and Stripes flying proud and free
Whipping on the pole in the cool night breeze
In majestic beauty lit up after dark
To stand its stately watch here in this park


This day begins as more names are read
Honoring the current Iraq War’s dead
In strong winds our flag proudly flies
Bold contrast against overcast skies

A lady brings her class reunion book
It was for six names I helped her look
Only three she found in the lists we had
Three precious rubbings that made her glad

Crowds gather around to be addressed
Closing words and thanks expressed
People watch with hands on hearts
Colors being struck by the Honor Guards

On the longest day, the time has come
The wall’s Kodiak tour is now done
For all the lives it went out to touch
To this small community it meant so much

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post a comment!


May 24 @ 2:48AM  

May 24 @ 3:00AM  
Thank you for reposting this, DC.
I don't remember if I told you last time, but I think this is one of the most wonderful tributes I have ever read....

May 24 @ 3:40AM  

May 24 @ 4:53AM  
As always, to everyone, including you DC, who posts a rememberence or tribute:

Thank you.

We all appreciate it.

If we don't remember, who will?
If we don't try, will anyone?

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The Moving Wall - A tribute to those left behind from the Vietnam War- REPOST