When I was nine or ten years old, a classmate invited me to go downtown to watch the Memorial Day Parade with his parents. We goofed around through the parade, but then a band came by playing, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and I noticed my friend’s mother was crying. Later, my friend took me into a back hallway of his house and showed me pictures of his older brother, a soldier, and pulled out his brother’s Purple Heart medal. The brother had died in Vietnam.
I thought of that day when reading David Hoekema’s essay about the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. My friend’s brother’s name is on that wall, along with 58,000 others. The architecture of the memorial mirrors the wounds of that war in profound ways, and David’s essay, published on the 40th anniversary of the Memorial’s dedication, asks us to pause and reflect on all that’s been lost.