The Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Located in a serene corner of Green Hill Park in Worcester, is the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Situated on 4 acres, the Memorial pays homage to the 1547 Massachusetts soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who died in that conflict or passed away later due to injuries received in action in Vietnam.
The Memorial consists of three sections. A Place of Words consists of letters written by Servicemen to loved ones at home. The texts are carved into 4 granite pillars. A Place of Flags has three large flagpoles, one has the US flag, another, the black POW-MIA flag, while a third has the Commonwealth of Massachusetts flag. Several others poles fly the flags of the various armed services. The third, and most solemn section is called A Place of Names. Six granite columns bear the names of 1546 servicemen (and 1 servicewoman) from Massachusetts whose young lives was cut down in this war. The Memorial, which has a small duck pond in the middle is pulled together by several seating areas, walkways and impeccable landscaping. The multicolored flowers and bushes provide color in the summer and fall, against the light grey of the granite columns. It is a beautiful place to be.
I have been there several times. The first thing one notices upon entering the Memorial is the sereneness and tranquility of the area. Visitors talk in hushed tones. Sitting on the benches, one can admire the architecture and beauty of the place. Last summer, I was at the Park for the Summernationals car show. The thousands of people and revving cars just outside did not ruin the solemnity and tranquility of the area.
Recently, while sitting on the benches of the Memorial, I realized if I had been born ten years earlier my name could have been one carved on the granite here. One can only imagine the hell and horrors these 1547 went through. Each one of them was someone’s son, brother, father, boyfriend and/or husband. Whether you agree or disagree with the morality of this war, I will not debate the morality of this war. Maybe in a future column I’ll examine these issues, but not now. The purpose of this Hub is to think about and remember the great sacrifices made by these people and their families.
But Vietnam was not the only war that this state (and this country) sent their boys to fight and die. According to answers.com about 1.2 million American’s have been killed in all of America’s wars and military actions. They died to build this country and to keep it free. In Worcester there are several other military memorials to Servicemen who gave their lives. The older neighborhoods of the city have many small granite memorials to servicemen from the Spanish-American War to the present who have who have died in the service of this country.
I will say that I while I have not been in the military, let alone seen the horrors of combat. I am thankful and grateful to the people who have. They have allowed generations to live free. But I admit I don’t know if just being thankful is enough and I am sure I am not alone.
Even the great war correspondent Ernie Pyle felt his feelings of gratitude might not be enough. In his great memoir of the men and the fighting in North Africa in 1943, Here is Your War, he talked about the thousands of men in Tunisia who laid down their lives. He decided the only thing he could do is mutter “Thanks Pal” as he passed their graves.