Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thirty-nine men~

They were men in 1967, albeit young and untested, until the dense and steamy jungles of Vietnam became an exam they dared not fail.  Now they call themselves the "Boys of '67." They met as a group in 2008 for the first time in forty-one years as graduates of the class of 5-'67 at the Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. From that reunion emerged the desire to honor their missing classmates in a permanent way.

The "boys" placed a new monument at the Marine Museum in Triangle, Virginia, in honor of their thirty-nine classmates who died in Vietnam. This monument was a gift from those who never forgot--never could forget and never will--their friends who didn't return home. Dedicated in a ceremony on October 16, it speaks to the power of the loyalty that is often generated in the worst of times.

Families of the deceased were invited. Many came--brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, and one ninety-five-year-old mother who's lived forty-three years past the death of her son. All were moved to realize that those who knew their loved ones only briefly remembered them still. The men whose names were engraved on the monument were as present as any of the men who bowed their heads as the names were read.

From the Vietnam War--any war, really--came turmoil, hate, division, fear… and much death. And yet the men who faced it together forged bonds that rose above the ugliness.  Along with the horrors of the war lodged in unwanted memories, these men share a respect and love for each other that no other relationship can rival. They talk, but it isn't usually to recount battlefield stories. They leave most of those memories pressed like a thorny rose between the pages of a closed book--a mere shadow of reality, and not to be examined often.

Just because it's over doesn't mean they forget. Just because it's been forty-three years doesn't mean the hurt has faded.  There are too many names carved in cold, black granite.

Click photos to enlarge. Click back arrow to return to blog post.


Lisa said...

Such a moving testimony with beautiful photos, Ruth.
I am so grateful for their sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your photo and well written emotional article. As a Marine from 5-67 who served with and knew the brave men you described, your words touched my heart and reminded me of their ultimate sacrifice for others.
Adamstown, MD

Tere said...

This is a beautiful tribute and the photos are so touching.

Wanda said...

Just now catching up a bit. This was a lovely tribute and deeply touching photos.