The Vietnam Memorial moving wall came through our town last week, and it was pretty phenomenal. Visiting the actual memorial in Washington D.C. is definitely on my list of things to do with my kids, and soon, so I was thrilled when the moving wall came for a visit.
When I rounded the corner in the cemetery, where the moving wall was set up, I felt like I’d been slammed in the chest a little. I was overwhelmed by the sight of all the names at once. And the traveling wall is only half the size of the actual monument in D.C.
Precocious had already been to see it with her 5th grade class. They’re studying U.S. history this year, and spent a great deal of time last week talking about the Vietnam War. Her teacher is old enough to have sent a few friends off in the 60’s.
There were a lot of people rubbing names of their lost and fallen family members to take home and tuck away in scrapbooks. I had Charming do it because I wanted to give him a little taste of understanding, some token of the heaviness of what we were doing.
It gave the kids more context for war than I could have explained in a year. In fact, we’ve had lots of discussions about war, what’s going on in the world, but seeing all those names was personal.
Touching the names, looking at them, and seeing which men were never even found. It was a little difficult for me to do without weeping.
It was touching and educational. It made me cry. It made me grateful, it made me sad. But at the end of the day I’m glad we got to have the experience of honoring our war veterans while teaching our children.
Have you been to the actual Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.? I can’t even imagine seeing the real one.