Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Memorial Day at the Vietnam War Memorial



Memorial Day, May 27, 2019
Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog.
The upcoming weekend in the US is Memorial Day Weekend, usually what is considered the beginning of summer with the celebrations usually centered around a cookout on the grill of hot dogs, hamburgers and brats. 

But there is a somber part of the holiday also. Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering and honoring persons who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Flags are placed on the graves of the service personnel who bravely served to protect our freedom and time is devoted to reflecting on their service and sacrifice.

I recall a trip to Washington, D.C. where my husband and I visited the Vietnam War Memorial. The path that takes a visitor along the length of the memorial brought tears to my eyes as I read the names of the soldiers who died in that turbulent war. Perhaps it was because this was my generation's war and I knew many who served and suffered from the after-effects of such atrocities and those who lost their lives in the jungles of Vietnam.

When I came across a poem found in William Zinsser's Writing About Your Life, I was touched by the story he tells about meeting the poet, Duong Tuong Tran when he and his wife visited Hanoi in 1996. Duong Tuong was one of Vietnam's most influential art critics, writer, poet and translator of American and Russian literature into Vietnamese. Zinsser included Duong Tuong's touching poem he wrote after visiting the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
In Remembrance
"When we visited this memorial with the list of names of those who lost their lives in service to our country inscribed on the long, dark wall, I was moved to tears. This poem brings me back to that solemn visit so many years ago as if it just happened to me." William Zinnser

AT THE VIETNAM WALL

because i never knew you
nor did you me
          i come

because you left behind mother,
father and betrothed
and i wife and children
          i come

because love is stronger than enmity
and can bridge oceans
          i come

because you never return
and i do
          i come

          DUONG TUONG Washington, D. C., November 21 1995



6 comments:

  1. Thanks for stopping in, Susan.

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  2. Oh, wow, JQ. The post is wonderful and the poem so moving. May I use it on my blog if I give you credit and this post? It's important we remember the real reason we get to have the cookouts! I'm sharing.

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    1. Oh yes, Marsha, please do. We need a reminder with all the frenzy of cookouts and the reality summer will be (is?) here!

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  3. I love your choice of poem to mark this day, JQ. I found it very moving indeed. Thanks for your post.

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