Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Twenty years ago, in 1989, I visited the Idaho Falls area. They had a small plaza, for lack of a better description, that had a number of memorials etched into its walls. The etchings were painted with scenes from the respective wars. I didn't really like it very much. so, I was delighted to find that a new memorial had been built.

The new one, as described earlier, is an inverted "V" which is meant to speak to the controversy surrounding the war. It is somewhat unusual (there are some others, more on them later) for memorials to address the varying views about the Vietnam conflict, but to me, it does seem to tell a more complete story. In addition, there is a bronze (?) bas relief of a women wrapped in an American flag (some say she is a female soldier, but her hair looks way too long to me), a soldier and a P.O.W. They are all beneath an eagle in flight. On the slanted leg of the "V" the names of those lost are inscribed. There are 243 names listed. A Vietnam memorial bell in Nampa, ID lists 251. These kind of discrepancies are not uncommon and could be due to a number of reasons. On the opposite side from the bas relief is a map of Vietnam. The site like many others offers a walkway and benches for visitors. It overlooks the river that becomes the Idaho Falls and is quite beautiful.

Another common occurrence is that various places list the duration of the war in different ways. The Wall in D.C. counts the years from 1959 to 1975 as the war years. Others I have seen say it began in 1964, 1965, and 1966. There is no one explanation for these differences. Some say the first combat troops went in one year and others say it was another. Or it may be that the sites are counting from when their first soldier was killed. If I ever get additional clarification, I will report it here.

The first American soldiers (called Advisors, at the time) were sent in 1955. By 1960 there were approximately 18, 000 Americans, whatever they were called in country. The rest as they say (in this case factually) is history. So, I guess there are any number of ways to interpret the length of the war. Most, it seems, use 1959 as that is when the first American is reported to have died for this cause.

On to Arizona!

Map this memorial.

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