Today, I had to fly to D.C. I had a very important meeting, with some very important people. They were 15 years old.
I went to Washington, D.C. on business, but had a couple of hours between the official business and fighting my way through airport security. Okay, that’s a lie, because I know how to pack, what will pass for “items” and breezed through the TSA check-point. Gaza, I’m looking at you.
But back to D.C. My official meeting was just a few blocks off the Mall. When it ended, I wandered down and down and down into the crevice of the Vietnam Memorial. It was field-trip day and at least three different schools were packed into the ravine. I tried to read the names. I really did, but a 15-year-old girl caught my eye. She was lovingly stroking a single letter on panel 59.
I stopped and pondered why this child, who is too young to know about Vietnam, loved that name so much. She just kept tooling her finger down the right side of the “H”.
I fought back the sniffles and wormed my way through the salmon. 5 panels up stream, I caught a glimpse of another lost soul placing her palm on the granite. She looked to her classmate for consolation. The only words I heard were, “If you have to cry, just cry. There’s no shame.” They hugged and the tears began to flow. Her hand never left the stone.
I walked up from that pit in wonderment. How could these children know? How were they attached to that wall? They were too young to know. They were to young to remember the Vietnam War. Who was that name on the wall? A father? A grand-father? An uncle? My uncle fought in WWII. It couldn’t be her uncle. My father fought in Vietnam. It couldn’t be her father. I couldn’t balance the age with the emotion.
Somehow, this kid was moved to tears over something that happened long before she was born. Maybe her Mother told her. Maybe it was her Aunt. Maybe we all have ties to each other in the end.