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Why Are These People Showing Up To The Vietnam Memorial With Buckets And Brushes?

This monument, a simple black granite wall that cuts like a wound into the green hillside, with its tattoo of names remembers: it remembers those who fell, who gave their all in service to the nation in Vietnam. Though it is has nothing of the monumental design of so many of the other monuments on, or near the Mall in Washington, D.C.  It has become one of the most visited. Its simplicity, its black surface, like a mirror scarred with those over 58,000 names, deeply touches everyone who stands before it.

The black, polished surface of the Vietnam Memorial, otherwise known as “The Wall,”  reflects the visitors back to themselves, yet it also draws them into its depths where sadness and loss reside.  All who come before it are rendered silent, respectful.

It was this memorial designed by the young Maya Lin, and opened in 1982, that really began the healing process for many Vietnam Veterans.

This video is a simple and quite beautiful tribute to the love that The Wall has fostered.  Regularly throughout the year, family members and friends of the fallen whose names are etched deeply into that black granite face, come together to gently wash the surface of the memorial.

There is nothing dramatic about this video.  It is a simple as The Wall itself.  Just regular folks taking time out of their lives for a day to do something modest, something that has no pretension in it.  They come with buckets and brushes and listen to the instructions of the Park Ranger as to how to do it so that there is no damage done to that mirror-like surface.  No fanfare here, just simple work, but that work, that simple effort, is done out of true respect for those whose names rest now on that wall.

Enjoy.  And remember.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.