Today I volunteered with Samoa Matalasi at Bolsa Grande HS Park. It was for “The Moving Wall” - a replica of the Vietnam War memorial wall that is set up at different locations each weekend. The aim is to bring DC’s memorial to our veterans and later generations so that they may see all 58,267 names of the heroes who laid their lives down.
Although I was only able to volunteer one out of the four days available, and for only one shift, it was a very moving experience. My job was to search names in a computer database so that guests and mourners may find the exact name and which exact panel/line that name is found on the wall. Almost every individual who approached me was an old veteran, or the family member of a Vietman War soldier. Some of them were even wearing their uniforms - I guess once a soldier, ALWAYS a soldier. It was heartbreaking to see REAL emotion out of these men…TEARS from men who have seen things no human being should ever see or experience. It was heartbreaking having to look up their commrad’s name in the database, and read their cause of death to them. It was heartbreaking hearing their stories of their friends in the war. It was heartbreaking when the friend or family member they wanted to find, couldn’t be found in the database, and seeing their reactions to the knowledge of a MIA soldier.
Later, I went inside the mini museum to look at all of the displayed uniforms, artifacts, weapons, ammunition, letters from the soliders and their loved ones, and real pictures of the Vietnam War. Reading the letters of the accounts of veterans caused me and my friends to be fighting back tears. These men and women served our country in ways we can’t even imagine. There’s all these movies and video games on what the Vietnam War, or ANY type of war for that matter, should have looked like, doesn’t come close to what it would have felt like.
They are the reason why we live in such a great country full of freedoms. We take our lives for granted way too often. God bless our veterans and current soldiers.