They Wash The Wall

Bob Dotson, is an Emmy Award winning producer of the Today Show. Military Connection is honored to feature synopses from some of the stories in his new book, “American Story”. Read this poignant and emotional story of a group of Viet Nam Vets who daily wash the Viet Nam Memorial Wall. It is their way to honor their fallen comrades. If you like this story, here is a link so you can purchase this book full of amazing American stories.

Every week, waves of men arrive to wash the wall.

They quietly dip their brushes into a bucket and wipe them over the polished black granite, across the 58,272 names etched into its face.

Some continue to work as their eyes fill with tears. Others are thunderstruck by the discovery of their own name on the wall, the name of a soldier just like themselves, who never made it home.

Michael G. Najarian discovered Michael A. Najarian amid the seemingly never ending list of names as he wiped the stone clean. It was a poignant moment for Michael, who also served in Vietnam but was lucky enough to make it home. Micheal G., was not. He perished at 21.

“I just sort of sank on the ground,” he said of the name discovery. “I couldn’t believe it.” When veteran Bill Gray comes to clean the monument, he is overcome by the loss he experienced on the battlefield.

As an Army lieutenant, he lost five men in his platoon. There was a sergeant who had just returned from R and R in Hawaii with his wife. The man had one month left before he was due to return home. The company commander perished too.

Rather than allow his soldiers’ families to endure the callousness of a form letter, Gray wrote the family of each fallen soldier himself. The letters were dusty. The letters were sincere. The letters were of the battlefield where their sons had fallen, not of a cold, sterile office where deaths were processed as paperwork rather than tragedies.

As Gray washes the wall, he lingers over the names of the men he lost. This task, he said, is a sort of therapy for the survivor’s guilt he suffers. He mourns for their lives. He mourns for the thousands of family members whose lives have been altered by their deaths.

They wipe their brush along the rows of names. Every day. Najarian, Gray and of hundreds of others come and they wash. They are silent.

To read more about this American Story and others by Bob Dotson, check out his book here.