We are going to jump straight to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was pretty much as expected to me, as we often see it on television. The two most moving things to me were the items left at the bottom of the lists of fallen soldiers. People leave lamiated sheets with information about the fallen with their pictures and vital statistics. It makes it very clear that these soldiers were other people's brothers, uncles, etc. and are still missed, cherished and honored. These sheets are attached to little floral bouquets.
From watching the people I noticed a young couple the most, she black, he white, who were looking up a name in the book that contained all the names of the fallen in the order in which it was left. They did everything very thoughtfully, hanging on to each other. It seemed a little different to me, since they looked so young.
The age does not matter in grief. The losses are permanent. We live with them. We don't get over them. They become part of our landscape. Like the amputees without their limbs, which they can't ever get back, the invisible losses are an invisible amputation. That imagery gets used all the time. Because it fits.
In terms of Vietnam, it of course, touches on our childhoods also, as we can remember the daily cruel newscasts and images. Who can forget the people hanging on to the last helicopters leaving Saigon, for example? These images are etched onto humanity's collective psyche.