LETTER: Resident remembers fallen veterans honored in traveling memorial

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  • By
  • | 2:00 p.m. March 6, 2023
  • Ormond Beach Observer
  • Opinion
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A visit with old friends

Dear Editor:

On Saturday, Feb. 25, I visited the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Rockefeller Gardens. The wall is a 3/5 scale replica of the Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. which is located near Constitution Gardens on the National Mall. Seeing the wall escorted to Ormond Beach is emotional. Searching for the names of my classmates among 58,000 names on the wall was an emotional overload. 

I could see my reflection on the wall. With the help of a volunteer, I found their names: Henry Lewis Allen and James Madison Masters, Jr. 

Henry had asked me to the prom when nobody else would. I didn't expect to find his name since he had been classified "Missing in Action" for so long. The names are listed chronologically on the wall in order of their causalities.

At my recent 60th reunion held at The Casements, we had a "Missing Man Table" set for both Jimmy and Henry. Both played football for Mainland High School. Jimmy made sure I never missed his game. In fact, once while on the field, he was looking up at the stands searching for me to make sure I was watching him. He was reprimanded by the coach for that! It was as if the three of us were together again. 

The spiritual connection I experienced at the Traveling Wall is exactly what the young university student, Maya Lin, intended when she designed the Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. Her design was chosen out of 1,400 submissions in a nationwide contest. When I was standing at the wall, I thought the volunteer would give us some space to reflect on the times we had and the time we had missed. However, she stood right by my side. 

It was then that I realized that she was the volunteer "hugger". When I started to cry uncontrollably, she gave me a much needed long and tight hug.  Two other volunteers printed out the full military profiles of my classmates which included dates and their photos.

Barbara Sandberg 

Ormond Beach

Editor's note: The Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial was displayed during Ormond Strong's Military Veteran, First Responder & Community Family Appreciation Day. For more information on the memorial, visit https://www.travelingwall.us/.

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