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The Memories Of A Veteran Essay

649 words - 3 pages

Yusef Komunyakaa's poem, "Facing It," speaks ofthe disturbed memories of a veteran. In the poem, thenarrator, a black, Vietnam War veteran, is visiting theVietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C. Thespeaker talks of how he feels, staring at the memorialwall, and also of how his memories still stay with him.He struggles at the memorial to keep his promise not tocry, but, now facing the wall, he is having trouble notto shed tears. This shows the tremendous impact that warhas on people and what many have to face from their pastmemories.As the man looks at the polished, black, granitewall, he notices and points out certain ...view middle of the document...

The wall has 58,022 names, which is not a rounded,but a specific number to symbolize that each and everyone of the veterans is important. He goes through thenames and comes across Andrew Johnson. He remembers thisname, and it may have been someone close to him or justan acquaintance during the war. He recalls the "boobytrap's white flash" (18) as he finds Johnson's name.This shows how Andrew Johnson died and that the narratorhad certainly witnessed the incident.The image of engraved names looking as if to appearon the reflection of people only to stay on the wallwhile they walk away, shows that those 58,022 names willalways "stay on the wall" (21), while people in the worldare free to come and go as they please. The names areset there to be a constant and permanent reminder of thesacrifices made during the Vietnam War.The narrator continues to see an image of a veteranin the wall, and they both lock eyes. He notices thatthe man has no arm in the black wall. He becomes a"window" (27) to the eyes of the veteran in the wall.All of the narrator's images and memories are from theimpact that the Vietnam War had on him from his past.The title of "Facing It" conveys the idea of what theveteran is doing in this piece. In one way, there is theliteral sense of the character facing the wall, while inanother sense, the veteran is facing his past and histroubled memories to pay homage and respect to thosefallen to the perils of war. He does this by facing hisfears and looking into the reflective wall.

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