Vietnam Memorial Wall shines new light on veteran respect


By Melanie Parrish, Delaney Smith and Megan Johnson

Walking up to the wall is an emotional journey to many of the people there. Tears are shed as people trace over names of loved ones that were lost all those years ago. Not all of the people who gave their lives were killed in battle. Many of them put others before themselves, risking their lives, on Sept. 11, 2001 to help people that could not help themselves while they were trapped in the burning towers when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

“I feel that you should treat a veteran with as much respect as you would your best friend,” said  sophomore Aidan Holt, a former NJROTC cadet.

The memorial, which was in Clarksville from Aug. 14-18, displays a small scale replica of the original Vietnam Memorial wall as well as replicas of many other memorials honoring the people who have died for the country. This includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and multiple 9/11 memorials. FC NJROTC proudly carried the honor of posting the colors at 1 p.m. on Aug.15.

“It made my heart hurt for those who have lost [loved ones],” said sophomore Joel Jackson, who attended the event.

Jackson said that he believes the wall honors everyone in the way they deserve, and hopes that people visiting, including himself, would take a moment to remain silent and reflect upon what they had seen.

“The area where the wall was standing was almost silent.”  

This memorial means something different for each individual that visits. 

“It means more than just a wall with a whole bunch of names. I think it meant that people risked their lives for everything that we know,” said Holt.

Some say veterans were treated very harshly when they first arrived home from the war. The wall is intended to honor these veterans.

“When we arrived home in Washington, protesters spit at us and hollered. We were just doing our jobs,” said retired Army Artilleryman Bud Downard.

Former Air Force Captain Jeri Rue agreed that veterans should be treated with more respect.

“They gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We need to do more for the ones that come back that are handicapped veterans and that society needs to do more for them. Veterans are very honored. I just wish the economy was stronger so they would have better jobs for when they come out of service,” said Rue.

About 9,870,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from Aug. 15, 1964 to May 7, 1975. According to Standown.org, about one third of homeless adults in the US are veterans. Veterans represent about 11 percent of the population, meaning that anywhere between 107,000 and 300,000 are homeless and/or out of work. The Department of Veteran Affairs stated that the number of homeless Vietnam veterans is higher than the number of fatalities during the war.

“Veterans deserve good VA (Veteran Administrations). They deserve to be taken care of when they have problems,” said Downard.

Downard explained that during the time of the war that his job as a specialist fourth class was to fire cannons at the Vietnamese. He remembers the living conditions of the war most vividly, as camps consisting of holes dug in the ground with sandbags on top. 

“They gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We need to do more for the ones that come back that are handicapped veterans. Society needs to do more for them,” said Rue.

Holt shared his finial opinion on respecting veterans.

“I think a good way to honor veterans is to show your greatest respect and gratitude to them and their families.”

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