Thursday, October 4, 2012

Arkansas


The Arkansas Vietnam Memorial is located on the Capitol grounds in Little Rock. It sits and dominates a corner at an intersection and is quite beautiful and imposing at the same time.

Entering from the front, you are guided by walls that envelope the inner memorial. Once inside you are greeted by "The Grunt" and the reflective panels honoring the 662 lost and missing.

Approved and built (1983) while Bill Clinton was governor, it seems especially poignant, to me, because of all the heat he took for not serving and protesting the war. I know this is a sore spot for some, but I hold no grudges for those who were in school, the National Guard or were otherwise not involved. It is what it is. In all, very few actually served. The numbers are something like; 30 million in the services during the "Vietnam Era", 3 million served in 'Nam (roughly 1 and 1/2 percent of the total population at the time) and about 10% of those were the actual guys fighting. At the time, 8 or 9 out of every 10 guys in country were in some kind of support role. These numbers are not exact, but they are pretty close. So,one and 1/2 percent of Americans went to 'Nam in some capacity. Most (98 and 1/2%) found a way out, he just took a lot of heat.

Having said all that, the memorial is quite stirring. The Grunt has that 10,000 mile stare in his eyes. Like so many of us he has seen more than he expected. He has seen too much.

The Memorial is easily found by taking the 6th Street exit from I-30 and driving west approximately 20 blocks to the State capitol grounds. Free, curbside parking is normally available near the Memorial on Woodlane Street.

 
Next time, I will take you further inside the memorial to check out some of the details and then over the next few weeks to other sites in Arkansas. As always, new posts "appear" every 5th day at 9:00am. so, I will see you the 9th at 9.

Update: I have just heard from the State Historian from Arkansas. He and his assistant just went out today to get a correct accounting of the number of names on the memorial. There are now 669. He says that there are no current plans to add any more but that there is space to do so if and when the need arises. He, also, told me he had just returned from a 150 mile trip to retrieve a box of documents that had been hurried away from the Capitol during the Civil War! These were hidden away for safe keeping and are just now being returned! It boggles the mind to imagine what might be found in this treasure trove of history.

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