At 6:48 this morning, a chilly sun rose over the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. Present were members of some local veterans groups, a group of cadets from the Civil Air Patrol, and one actor and two techies from One Red Flower. First Saturday of the month, from April through November, the veterans and cadets grab hoses and buckets and wash the wall. Local vet Bill Gray had invited us to join them when he saw ORF last month.
The most moving part of the Vietnam Wall is its unavoidable presentation of the personal reality of the war: At any time during the day there are people taking rubbings of names, leaving memorials, and looking up friends in the index books. These are not just 58,260 names, they are friends and family of people still living. Most of the docents were there, serving alongside the people represented in marble.
Eventually that will no longer be true. What will that mean for the meaning of the monument? Continue reading ‘Temporality in Memoriality’