Now I know why they call it “The Moving Wall”

Vietnam Veterans, Memorial, The Moving Wall, Malden, cemetery, Sony NEX 6

This past weekend, The Moving Wall, a half scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, came to a local cemetery. Having never seen either the original or The Moving Wall, I stopped by to take a look.

It was grey and raining, and the cemetery looked as they all do on such days: somber and reverential. There were few people to be seen.

I wasn’t prepared for The Wall. The stark white lettering against the black reflective background. The US and each military branches’ flags positioned along the top, dripping and clinging to The Wall. Wreaths commemorating the local heroes. Flowers, photos, and other personal memorials scattered along the base.

Vietnam Veterans, Memorial, The Moving Wall, Malden, cemetery, Sony NEX 6

But the lasting impression for me will always be how endless it was.

Vietnam Veterans, Memorial, The Moving Wall, Malden, cemetery, Sony NEX 6

I was in high school during the Vietnam war, and although I had a draft card, never got the call. We all suffered from the numbing effect of the endless news coverage and 6:00pm casualty counts. It was troubling but distant, and difficult to relate to, until slightly older friends and family became involved.

Over time, the war seemed doomed and when it ended, everyone looked forward and away, not back.  Except for the Veterans, some of whom still lived it. For many of them, it was endless.

Vietnam Veterans, Memorial, The Moving Wall, Malden, cemetery, Sony NEX 6

In 1982 the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was constructed in Washington DC to honor the American servicemen and women, just seven years after the end of the war. The Moving Wall was first displayed in 1984, having been built with personal funds by a Vietnam veteran and friends.

Vietnam Veterans, Memorial, The Moving Wall, Malden, cemetery, Sony NEX 6

This visit, seasoned with the benefit of maturity and perspective, moved me greatly, and made me realize what was really happening some 40 years ago.

Vietnam Veterans, Memorial, The Moving Wall, Malden, cemetery, Sony NEX 6

So many lives.

Sony NEX 6, Lightroom 4

All photos copyright Ed Spadoni

About Ed Spadoni "Thoughts and opinions, resources and experiences… for emerging photographers everywhere."
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13 Responses to Now I know why they call it “The Moving Wall”

  1. Steven Tryon says:

    Yes, a 1950 model here. I saw the moving moveable in Rochester a few back.

  2. Rodney says:

    I have seen the memorial in DC. It is quite moving, especially if you take the time to really ponder it and the war. These photos are strikingly good and haunting. You should submit them to the official website of the Moving Wall, if you haven’t already. I didn’t realize they had a wall that traveled around. What work and dedication that must take, just like the war took. Thanks for sharing Ed.

  3. There’s a lot of names there! I’d love to see it one day. I was only very young around the Vietnam war but I too remember the nightly news. I visited our Australian War Memorial in Canberra a few years back and found that moving also. War is such a waste!

  4. RMW says:

    I like the idea of this traveling version. I saw the original in DC around 1990. It was indeed a “moving” experience. I was in high school and college during that war. I was standing there with tears streaming down my face as I read the names of all those young people whose lives were cut short. Two men in their twenties, probably the same age (or older) as a lot of the names on the wall when they were killed, were standing nearby. One said, “So what’s the big deal, this is really boring.” His companion said, “I guess it would mean more to people who were actually there.” At the time.I couldn’t believe their reaction. But in retrospect, I understand. To them the Vietnam War was ancient history… on to the next one, brought to you live on the six o’clock news…

  5. A Moving Wall visited here in San Diego about 15 years ago and it was something, indeed, to see. When I saw the Memorial in Washington, DC, I was simply slapped flat by the immensity of it, the shame and honor. I spontaneously combusted into tears and would have actually fallen to the ground if my nephew had not caught me. Oh, the inhumanity! Thank you, Ed, for reminding us of the waste of war and how important it is to remember our youngest and brightest are being destroyed daily. Why we, as a people, a country of conscious, let it continue is something I struggle with every day.

  6. Your experience and feelings mimic mine (or visa versa). When The Wall came to a small park near my home several years ago, I made the decision to visit it. And, wow, was I moved. I won’t forget the vets who stood by to answer questions and console those grieving. Thanks for giving us a stark reminder of this period in our nation’s history and of the sacrifice of too many.

  7. Ed,

    I have visited The Wall in DC, and it is indeed moving. I would venture to say that EVERYONE I know, without exception, knows someone whose name is permanently enshrined there. My father served a tour in Tan Son Nhut, and later Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). I received my draft notice in 1974, but had already enlisted in the Air Force, so I did not go – and by 1975 it was all over.

    Nevertheless, my entire generation was directly affected by that “police action”. There are many emotions, on both sides of the political spectrum, that resurface every time we see or hear of The Wall. Regardless of how you feel about Vietnam, the men and women who served, and those who gave their lives, deserve our gratitude and respect.

    As a veteran, I salute each and every service member who has served in this and ALL past conflicts. May God hasten the day when we no longer engage in “wars and rumors of wars”…

    Frank V.

  8. Howard says:

    Very moving, Ed, thanks for sharing.

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