Forgotten … and Now Remembered

Karleen Chinen
Originally published March 6, 1987

A woman lovingly arranges a bunch of fresh-cut flowers and leans them against the stark black and white wall. She brings her right hand up to her lips and tenderly kisses her fingertips as her eyes remain fixed on a name etched on the wall. Gently, she presses her fingers to the name. “I love you, and I miss you” — just a few simple words, never spoken in those few minutes, but words she has probably voiced over and over in her mind.

Who was he? I wondered. Her husband? Father? Brother?

A few yards away, a middle-aged man studies the 58,132 names etched on the wall. In his street clothes he looks like any other downtown worker. But in his left hand he clutches an Army cap and you can’t help but know that two decades ago, he was 6,300 miles away — fighting a costly, undeclared war in Vietnam.

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