Vietnam Memorial Interview/ "The Things They Carried" Vanderbilt

1008 words - 4 pages

Ryan Powers4/08/2003Dazed & Confused in VietnamThomas Allen Marshall was apathetic when he was drafted to serve the United States army in Vietnam. This apathy did not last long once he actually set foot in the jungle. Like so many young men, Tom crossed the Atlantic not knowing what to expect, and found something that he never could have imagined. Streaming jungles. Napalm. Underground tunnels. Agent Orange. Guerrilla warfare. A conflict that started in controversy, ended with controversy, and has made nothing but controversy since. Tom's view on the conflict is less political and controversial than the norm and takes the role of a progressive narrative.When I had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. two weeks ago, I jumped on the chance to visit Vietnam Memorial. Tom was walking with his family holding a sign that said "Proud Veteran against the War". I asked him about his sign and told him about my project and his family and I fell into conversation about his Vietnam experience. "Going to Nam is what the youth of our generation were asked to do, and we did it. There were some tough times but that is the nature of the beast. I am proud to have served in Vietnam but there is no reason for this generation to have to go through the same thing" (Thomas Marshall 3/22/03) After some more semi-patriotic chatting about serving his time representing his country and the memorial representing their losses, Tom asked me if I'd like to go get a hotdog from a vendor with him. I left my girlfriend with his family to chat about D.C. restaurants and we went for a walk. Away from his family, Tom's tone changed completely. "My experience there was the worst time of my life.Conversation lightened a bit when we spoke of the memorial. Located between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial in the Washington Mall, the Vietnam War Memorial continues to be a topic of hot debate. Ten long years after the Vietnam conflict ended, many Americans thought it was time to establish a monument, as had been done for the other wars in America's history, to commemorate the tragic loss of life. It was decided that there would be a competition for who would be the one to design it. A total of 1,421 people submitted designs for the contest. The winner was a Maya Ying Lin, a student at Yale majoring in architecture. This Chinese-American was given power over the money privately raised for the construction of the wall. The design is two walls forming a "V" each 246' 8" long. They meet at an angle of 125 degrees, 12 minutes. Each of the two walls point at the northeast corners of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Inscribed on the wall are the names of all 57,939 soldiers killed during the war. Tom feels that the memorial couldn't be any better. It is a perfect representation of the situation. "The memorial...

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