FROM THE OTHER SIDE
If you've ever seen the painting "Reflections" of the Vietnam Wall in Washington, you'll notice the man standing there with his hand on the wall, mourning his dead father or brother who was killed. What he doesn't see is the reflection from the other side showing that relative with HIS hand on the wall, touching the hand of his survivor. That painting inspired this story.
By Patrick Camunes
At first there was no place for us to go until someone put up that Black Granite Wall. Now, everyday and night, my Brothers and my Sisters wait to see the many people from places afar file in front of this Wall. Many stopping briefly and many for hours and some that come on a regular basis. It was hard at first, not that it's gotten any easier, but it seems that many of the attitudes towards that war that we were involved in have changed. I can only pray that the ones on the other side have learned something and more Walls as this one needn't be built.
Several members of my unit and many that I did not recognize have
called me to the Wall by touching my name that is engraved upon it. The
tears aren't necessary but are hard even for me to hold back. Don't feel
guilty for not being with me, my Brothers. This was my destiny as it is
yours, to be on that side of the Wall.
Touch the Wall, my Brothers, so that we can share in the memories that
we had. I have learned to put the bad memories aside and remember only the
pleasant times that we had together. Tell our other Brothers out there to
come and visit me, not to say Good Bye but to say Hello and be together
again, even for a short time and to ease that pain of loss that we all
Today, an irresistible and loving call comes from the Wall. As I
approach I can see an elderly lady and as I get closer I recognize
her.......It's Momma! As much as I have looked forward to this day, I have
also regretted it because I didn't know what reaction I would
Next to her, I suddenly see my wife and immediately think how hard it
must of been for her to come to this place and my mind floods with the
pleasant memories of 30 years past. There's a young man in a military
uniform standing with his arm around her......My God!......It's...it has
to be my son. Look at him trying to be the man without a tear in his eye.
I yearn to tell him how proud I am, seeing him standing tall, straight and
proud in his uniform.
Momma comes closer and touches the Wall and I feel the soft and gentle
touch I had not felt in so many years. Dad has crossed to this side of the
Wall and through our touch, I try to convey to her that Dad is doing fine
and is no longer suffering or feeling pain. I see my wife's courage
building as she sees Momma touch the Wall and she approaches and lays her
hand on my waiting hand. All the emotions, feelings and memories of three
decades past flash between our touch and I tell her that it's all right.
Carry on with your life and don't worry about me......I can see as I look
into her eyes that she hears and understands me and a big burden has been
lifted from her.
I watch as they lay flowers and other memories of my past. My lucky
charm that was taken from me and sent to her by my CO, a tattered and worn
teddy bear that I can barely remember having as I grew up as a child and
several medals that I had earned and were presented to my wife. One of
them is the Combat Infantry Badge that I am very proud of and I notice
that my son is also wearing this medal. I had earned mine in the jungles
of Vietnam and he had probably earned his in the deserts of Iraq.
I can tell that they are preparing to leave and I try to take a mental
picture of them together, because I don't know when I will see them again.
I wouldn't blame them if they were not to return and can only thank them
that I was not forgotten. My wife and Momma near the Wall for one final
touch and so many years of indecision, fear and sorrow are let go. As they
turn to leave I feel my tears that had not flowed for so many years, form
as if dew drops on the other side of the Wall.
They slowly move away with only a glance over their shoulder. My son
suddenly stops and slowly returns. He stands straight and proud in front
of me and snaps a salute. Something makes him move to the Wall and he puts
his hand upon the Wall and touches my tears that had formed on the face of
the Wall and I can tell that he senses my presence there and the pride and
the love that I have for him. He falls to his knees and the tears flow
from his eyes and I try my best to reassure him that it's all right and
the tears do not make him any less of a man.
As he moves back wiping the tears from his eyes, he silently mouths,
God Bless you, Dad...... God Bless, YOU, Son...... We WILL meet someday
but in the meanwhile, go on your way...... There is no hurry.......There
is no hurry at all.
As I see them walk off in the distance, I yell out to THEM and EVERYONE there today, as loud as I can,.........
THANKS FOR REMEMBERING and as others on this side of the Wall join in, I notice that the US Flag that so proudly flies in front of us everyday, is flapping and standing proudly straight out in the wind today.......
THANK YOU ALL FOR REMEMBERING