At the Wall

With Veterans Day, my thoughts often turn again to the Wall in DC

An American Family

WallIn the 1980s we moved to the Washington DC area and lived there nearly 9 years.

It was almost inevitable that I would visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also known as “The Wall.”  One of my ROTC instructors at Hobart College had died in Vietnam – Major Theodore “Ted” Shorack in 1966, and a good friend of mine Pvt James Kirkby was killed on an Army patrol in South Vietnam about 1970.

Early on I decided to go to the Wall to search for their names.     On one of my manyvisits I found the names and stood silently for a moment and remembered these men.

It is hard to put into words the impact of this place on the first visit.   In many ways the place is very disarming.  It starts as a low black granite panel on each end and gradually rises, in a dramatic V to an apex of…

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About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
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One Response to At the Wall

  1. JL Mutolo says:


    You’ve captured the essence of The Wall and why it is so moving, bringing out the magnitude of the losses we experience. Unlike so many War Memorials, it is not a monument to the “glory” of the cause, only to the men and women who sacrificed so much.


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