A CAP Cadet's Volunteer at The Moving Wall™

I started out my first shift at The Wall on Thursday, August 10th, at 5pm; I was wearing my CAP dress blues, preparing for the Presentation of the Colors for the opening ceremonies. We began the ceremony, it was a windy day, and tents were trying to blow down, as were all the flags, it was threatening to storm, but held clear enough for the ceremonies.
After the ceremonies, I went straight to the main tent (where the books and volunteer area were at), I checked in, got my tag, and went to work, helping find names in the book, then assisting people with their rubbings of The Wall. I had been there for a couple hours, and I was talking to one woman who had a classmate on that Wall, I helped her find his name, and she told me about him. That night, I saw grown men come to tears — kneeling at The Wall, with their hands on a friends’ name. I saw then, how much that Wall meant to each individual that knew a soldier on that wall.

When I came in the next morning for my next shift, I continued to do my job, finding names, making rubbings, and part of my job became educating people about what The Wall meant. I talked to veterans, helped one man find thirty names, ten of whom had died in his arms — good friends, friends that were like family — friends that will never be seen again. At the end of Friday, I had collected some stories, stories about water buffalo, snakes, tigers, and rats bigger than cats! I had spoken to the veterans, and told them I cared, told them thank you, and placed more flags at The Wall. On Saturday morning, I talked to one of the veterans — he told me what happened in Vietnam, not what they tell you in the history books, not what the media tells you, not the funny and lighthearted stuff.

There was another man, who was on board the USS Forrestal when they had a fire that lasted three days. By the end of Saturday afternoon, I don’t know how many tears I had shed — I learned the meaning of the word Hero. These men are Heroes, every man and woman that died was a Hero. I also learned the meaning of “All gave some — and some, gave All” This time that I have given, was the best way I have ever found to spend my time. There have been more flags placed by that wall than I can count, more rubbings that I have assisted with, and more tears shed, than I have ever done and seen.

On my final day there, today, Sunday, then I heard a couple more stories, shed more tears, helped more people find names of their loved ones, helped them, and listened as they cried, and did all I could for comfort. I have learned that thanks were not given, and any that has been given, was not enough, not nearly enough. The best way I can honor their memories, is to do all I can to think them. The many memorials that were left were dog tags attached to an American Flag, a 1st Air Cav pin attached to an American Flag, a rose and a picture, a whiskey flask with three cigars accompanied by a note, a Purple Heart Medal and Ribbon, seashells spread along the walk, and more American Flags than one could count. There was a “Missing Man Table” set up, as well as a memorial for our POWs and MIAs, with a flak jacket, helmet, boots, dog tags, rifle, knife, and a POW/MIA flag flying.

These memorials have touched me; this war has come closer to me. I am 15, I have worked over 24 hours at The Wall, this war was not of my generation — but as long as these men live, then the war is still alive, in their minds, and the healing has never been completed. The Wall left this morning, the closing ceremonies, on Monday the 14th of August. I was again part of the color guard. I shook hands, cried, hugged, and got pictures taken of me and my good buddies there. These men are my heroes, adopted soldiers. None of them has ever gotten the thanks that they deserve — and giving my time was the only way I could give them thanks. So Thank You to our Vietnam Veterans, and to all of the veterans of our country — thank you from the bottom of my heart, for protecting our country, for giving myself, and others of my generation a free nation. The most important lesson I have learned, is that no matter how long ago a war was — then their memories still need honored, for their memories live on. ALL GAVE SOME — BUT SOME GAVE ALL.

West Memphis Arkansas
Age-15
Grade-11th
 
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