The Healing Wound

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The Healing Wound

It’s a beautiful morning at our nation’s capital.

Constitution Gardens is blooming with life. Flowers of red,

yellow, and pink bob their heads in the gentle summer breeze.

Wise old trees proudly oversee the grassy lawns, while twittering

birds scamper about on their strong, sturdy limbs. People talk

animatedly as they stroll in small groups along the brown, dusty

paths. Children run and jump, stopping occasionally to make

quick poses for parents’ snapping cameras.

As we walk ahead, we notice a shape taking form on the

horizon. It looks like a large gray splinter embedded into the

green landscape. As we come closer, we realize how truly large

this object is, yet it does not rise up from the earth like other

structures in the park. Rather, it sinks down into the lawn, as

if its very size were a giant weight upon the land. Now that we

are upon it, it looks far more like a gaping black wound than a

silver sliver. Its opening begins narrowly and then widens in

the middle, tapering off again at the other end. It is very

dark, and now that we are close enough to touch it, we see that

it is solid and black and hard and dense. The park breezes die

here. Adults cease their prattle. Children stop their play.

Eerily, even the chatter of birds doesn’t reach this solemn

place. All senses tell us that we have entered a sacred site--a

place meant for reflection and contemplation. We are at the

Vietnam War Memorial.

The tip of the gash points to President Lincoln sitting high

above and looking out upon us all. In contrast to the giant

statue of pristine white, the wall that rises by my foot is so

dark that it reflects the ground in which it is burrowed. There

are letters inscribed on the wall. They form names. I read:

FLOYD LEE WILLIAMS JR.

I wonder about Floyd. To most people who come here, his is

merely one out of a myriad of names scratched into this cool

granite wall. Does anyone know that Floyd was from Northglenn,

Colorado, or that he was only 20 years old when he died? How can

the thousands of people who see his name here know that he was in

Vietnam for only 12 short days? His helicopter was shot down.

His life was important, yet his death is only the tip of a great

iceberg that chills the hearts of Americans everywhere. There

are over 58,000 more names like his listed on these cold slabs.

The sleek and stark feel of the memorial is enhanced by the

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