Friday, October 10, 2014

SEVEN SHELBYS: A VISIT TO THE MOVING VIETNAM MEMORIAL WALL


This reflection relates, in a way, to our discussion of Language and War.  In this particular case, I am personally looking at the ultimate effects of war on individuals and how they define themselves, as well as how war makes us respond with our language.  I dedicate this post to my friend Larry Frost....

After reading, please do one of two things:  respond with any thoughts you have on this particular reflection, or please feel free to share any reflections YOU have from a visit somewhere that made you stop and think, a war story or any other story from a loved one...whatever you would like to share with us....


Last weekend, we took the family over to our Estrella Residential Center to visit the Moving Vietnam Memorial Wall.  I have never seen the one in Washington DC, neither have our kids, so we thought that would be a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon and reflect on the freedom we enjoy, and take time to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

One of our very dearest friends is a Vietnam veteran.  He has shared many incredible stories with us in our home and his.  We have looked through his picture and scrap books of memories, and seen the display of his many war medals that his wife lovingly made for him.  He had tried to throw them all away once, but she would not hear of it.  Despite the memories that still haunt him over thirty years later, she sees him as a true American hero.  So do I. 

I remembered him telling us many times about his dear friend, Shelby, whom he lost over in Vietnam.  It was a horrifying story in which my friend witnessed his best friend's helicopter being shot down just yards away from his own.  Shelby had a baby daughter when he died...a daughter who would never know the incredible, kind-hearted man who was her father.

We arrived to the wall that day, and I realized I didn't have the slightest clue as to what Shelby's last name was so that I could find him on the wall.  My friends live in Kauai, so I texted them, hoping that perhaps they would see the text and reply in time.  In the meantime, we decided to try and inquire based on our knowledge of Shelby's first name.  It was not a common first name.  Maybe, just maybe, we would get lucky.

We asked the volunteers who were not only gracious, but eager to help us find this friend.  They looked up the name "Shelby" in the database.  "Let's give it a try," one of them said.  Then, we waited a few short seconds, and she gave us the verdict:  "Seven.  There are seven Shelby's on the Vietnam Wall."

I asked her about them--perhaps some detail might register so that we could narrow it down.  Here is what I learned:

There are seven Shelbys on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

One was from Louisianna.  
Two were from West Virginia.
One was from Virginia.
One was from Missouri
One was from Nebraska
and one Shelby hailed from Ohio.

All of the Shelbys on the wall were from the ages of 20-23 when they died.

Seven sons.  Seven friends to countless others.  Seven American heroes.
These are the things these soldiers share...along with their name.

Suddenly, we wanted to find them. We all wanted to find each of the Shelbys on the wall because no matter which one was my friend's buddy, they all had a story to tell. 

A story that ended much, much too soon.

In a strange way, I felt we owed all of the Shelbys a glance, a silent word of thanks.  A touch on the wall.  A photograph.

They deserved to be remembered.

We found all of the Shelbys.  I took photographs of their names because these young men matter.  

My friend did send me a text before we left the exhibit, and we were able to obtain a rubbing of his Shelby.  The Shelby who was his dearest friend.  The Shelby who would never really know his daughter.  The Shelby who will always have a place in my friend's heart, and now, mine...

But I am so grateful to have found the others, as well.  They will also have a place in my heart.

60 comments:

  1. I enjoyed the story and I liked how it was a personal story instead of a news article or video. I think it is really important to remember everyone who has fought for our freedom and remember those who gave their lives for our country. War is a horrible thing and it is extremely painful but it is important that we realize that people are actually losing their lives and losing loved ones. I don’t like how there is war and I would like there to just be peace, but with the way humans are, that just does not seem possible. We are always going to find something to fight over and throw lives away so that we get what we want. It’s really sad that this is our solution to solving problems in the world but I guess that’s just the way things are.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it Devan! Larry is a dear, dear friend to me. I grew up with his wife, and I have such admiration for him and really anyone who has sacrificed for our country. I wrote this right after we got home that day, because I was so moved by all those names. I don't like war, either, but you are right. We do, as humans, have definite "need" for conflict. I wish that weren't true. Thanks for your post!

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  2. I found your heart felt story very touching. I have had lots of family members in my family that have died in battle. One I specifically remember, was my Uncle Trace, on my dad's side of the family, that died while in Afghanistan. He was rebuilding schools that had been destroyed by bombs, when he was shot in the face; he died instantly. I remember when it happened, my aunt called us sobbing trying to get the words out. I didn't really know him due to the fact he lived in Idaho and we live in Arizona. I was also about 8 years old when it happened. After his death, my aunt became a huge advocate for those in the military, military families, and those who have lost others through the military. She even put on events for those individuals to join them together and to show them the up most respect. I saw her as a young girl do these things and ever since then when we go to visit my grandfather's grave, also a Vietnam War veteran, we pay our respects to all of the men that lay next to him. It is a very important thing to show respect to those who risk their lives to save ours and it makes me very sad that people do not do so.

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    1. I so agree. My deepest condolences on your losses from war, and I am so very grateful for your Uncle and your grandfather who gave their lives for their country's call to duty. Thanks for sharing YOUR story. May I have your grandfather's name? I would like to look for him on the wall when I go back east this summer. I will definitely pay my respects.

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  3. I believe this story really highlights the fact that history is not merely the past. It continues on to the future and impacts people even well after the fact has occurred. I love how the author showed that everyone on that wall had a personal story to tell. I have not lost a family member in this way, so I can only imagine how traumatic the death of a family member is for those people. For them, the emotion continues on well after the war has ended. The story does a great job of reminding us to remember the past, and to learn from it.

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    1. Thank you, Alex. I wrote this because I was so moved to tears by my friend Larry's story about his friend Shelby, and then I was moved again when I found that there were seven. I count myself lucky that I had the opportunity to pay respects not just to one Shelby, but to seven valiant men. :) LOVE what you said about remembering the past and learning from it.

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  4. This story really touched my heart just because Shelby did not see his daughter grow up. One of the most important things to me is family and the fact that he couldn't continue making one and seeing his grow really depresses me. I feel as though Shelby, including everyone else who had died, died much too young. He didn't know what life was about and never got to experience it. It just makes me thankful for the fact that each and every one of us gets the privelage to live another day.

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  6. First of all...wow. Coming from a military family myself, this really hit home. I loved how they paid tribute to everyone there with the name Shelby, too. While I can't relate to anything exactly, I can slightly relate to the daughter. I was very little when my dad was deployed, and what 3 year old is expected to remember someone she hasn't seen in over a year? When he came back I didn't really know who he was and to this day I know it's affected how I see him. I still know he's my dad and I love him, but I just know it's different than everyone else's family. Though, I definitely respect what the military does; my brother is in the Air Force right now. So, I may not know what it's like to lose someone like that, but I know how being a part of a military family can impact someone. One little thing can absolutely change everything.

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    1. Thank you, Megan. Yes, when my kids looked at me and said, "We have to find all seven, Mom," I was moved to tears. It was important, and I loved that they saw that.
      I am from a military family, as well, so I totally relate to what you are saying. A big thank you to your Dad, brother, and your family for all the sacrifices you have made for your country. :) xoxo

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  7. I hear many war stories as my grandpa served in the military for quite some time in the 1960's. He was a paratrooper, meaning his job was to jump from planes and helicopters on a daily basis. The more his team jumped, the more that got paid, This means that they did A LOT of jumping. Because my grandpa was in a division in Germany, they did a lot of jumping from small planes to fill their quota. Up to five men were allowed to jump at once as a sort of practice to keep their skills sharp. For fun, my grandpa's troop would line up in preparation for their jump and pretend to hook up their static lines. Instead of following protocol, they would attach their static clips to the D-ring on the person behind them. Every man would do this, except for the last man. The last man would hook his static clip to the line designated for jumping. This means that all four men jumping would have to wait a long while for their chutes to extract as they had to free fall and wait for their last comrade to catch on the line and pull his chute free. This process is called a "Daisy Chain" and it's not allowed to be executed. However, my grandpa and his team didn't much care for the rules. They were rebels. Anyways, my grandpa, being the smallest man in the group, had to jump first. He was the one who had to wait and fall the longest while the other men in his group jumped and preceded into the open air. Finally, the last man would jump. After a few seconds of falling, his chute would release and yank him into the air. The tension from his chute then proceeded to the man whom jumped before him, causing his chute to inflate. This process is sort of like a rapid fire, parachute chain. It's frowned upon, yes. But that didn't stop the men on active duty from having a little fun now and then. ;)

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    1. All I can say is your grandpa sounds like a very cool guy! How neat that he shared these stories with you, too! Did your grandfather serve during WW2 in the 1940's or was that before his time? I wasn't sure if you meant that he served through the sixties or if that is when his service started.

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  8. I just want to say I am so thankful for all those who serve our country, all the sacrifices they make we could never thank them enough. This story was very touching, I get goosebumps reading it because it is so meaningful. I don't have any stories to share, but I would just like to say that I am proud to be american and so greatful for the soldiers that risk there lives to keep this country safe. Soldiers like Shelby.

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  9. First off, this post was very touching. I loved the repetition throughout your post and that you feel/care so deeply about those who have served and given their lives for our country. I also think that it is amazing that your children feel the same way as well. You've definitely taught them to take initiative and take action. I love that they came to you instead of you coming to them to find and recognize all the people on the wall. It was very touching. They didn't just see is as finding names but as finding people. In my immediate family their no one has served in the military. Some of my cousins and great uncles have served but their is a great distance between us so I have not been heavily influenced in that way. War is a horrible thing and I don't think that today we fully comprehend that. My step-grandfather served in the Vietnam War and it haunted him until his grave. My mom told me that he would wake up in his sleep reliving the war. I think with all the violence we incorporate into our lives now a days makes us numb and not realize the horrors of war. War is people killing people to solve a bigger problem for others. I think that our overall view of war has shifted due to electronic weaponry (you don't have to look the person you kill in the face anymore) and war incorporated in our daily lives (video games). I also think that even though we honor people who have served we take for granted their service. War can change people and I'm thankful for those who are willing to sacrifice everything to make our country the country it is and give us the freedoms we enjoy.

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    1. Thank you, Ashlynd. :) I am from a military family, so it has always been something very important to us, and you are right, I am very glad that our children sense that, too. Both of my boys are considering military--Noah wants to attend the Air Force Academy for college.

      You are right about the fact that our modern warfare very much depersonalizes killing and war. I fear that often video games desensitize us, too. No one will probably ever be able to fully understand what our young men go through in a battle - especially in a war like Vietnam. All I can say is, I am grateful for their sacrifice.

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  10. This story is very touching. I liked reading about this experience, then reading an article about it. I actually have visited the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. Looking at the mall and reflecting on it, really makes you think about all the soldiers who have fought for our country. It also made me think about all those families who have lost a family member fighting in a war. It is really inspirational how they would give their lives for the country. My cousins are in the Air Force and we have family friends who are also in the Air Force. Thinking about the families who have lost someone fighting in the war is truly sad. Especially if they had a baby. Like Shelby did. He was not able to see his daughter grow up. I am so grateful for everyone who risks their lives fighting in the wars.

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    1. That is so great you got to see the Wall in Washington. There are just so many names.

      Thank you to your cousins for their service!

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  11. I found this really beautiful. The likelihood of finding the one man but finding seven of them with similar circumstances. I went to the trailing wall in Buckeye last year with our choir. We sang the Star Spangled Banner and the pride I had as we sang was so great. The people in the audience were teary eyed and I am so glad I got to bring remembrance to those families. Afterwards looking at the wall was amazing. To see all the names and people who have died fighting for our freedom was a wonderful experience. If anyone has the chance to have any experience like this they should take it. It really puts things into perspective.

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    1. It really does put our daily problems into perspective, doesn't it? It was truly an honor to find those seven men, and something our family will remember.

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  12. I actually really enjoyed reading this. Ive never had an experience like this and as selfish as this sounds Ive never really put much thought into this but this really opened up my eyes. There are so many people who risk their lives for our country and every day and are not recognized. I think a lot of people just over look things like this like me but we really owe them our respect. Not only did they lose their life their family and friends also have to deal with that death and death is not easy to get over. I think mainly it opened up my eyes and made me realize I need to show more respect to people who fight for our country and remember and recognize those who have already died.

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  13. Coming from a very large family I see that I may have one or more people related to me, or close to my family on those walls, moving and in washington. I never really thought about it though. The story really made me think about not only the people who we all lost fighting for our freedom, but also the bonds they shared with people back home. Just like Mikensee I went to the wall to sing for choir as well, and I remember a friend of mine who had family on that wall. I vaguely, but still remembered their lower darkened expression, it just reminded me then and now that people do amazing things for us that go with out notice. And gratitude is minimal, but it shouldn't be.

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    1. Exactly! I just didn't want those other six Shelbys to go unnoticed that day. It was very moving, and I am so glad we found them all as a family.

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  14. As someone who has been to the Vietnam Wall in D.C on an eighth grade trip, the one connection I can clearly make while reading this blog post is a certain memory i have from when I was this little fourteen year old and I experienced other people's grief.
    Flash back four years ago to when I was in eighth grade, my hair shorter, seeing that I had grown it out like I was Rapunzle and had to chop it all off because it was so dead.
    Excuse me while I shutter.
    Anyway, on the bus ride towards the Vietnam Wall, we all talked and laughed and made jokes of course, doing what regular middle schoolers do. We all did love the history we were learning here but, let's be honest, most of us went on that trip to get a free get out of school card for a week. I'll save the details on how our tour guides instructed us on how this place was important to our country, that people came here from all over to remember those who gave up their lives to fight.
    I remember walking down with Avi, and Alex, and we were studying the names on the wall, watching how the list gradually became longer...and longer...and longer.
    Not a sound was made.
    No one spoke.
    No one even was breathing loudly.
    Imagine me, outspoken, little Tiehen, just completely silent, not from fear, but in awe that all of these men and women gave up their very lives to stand up for their country, and families, and a chance for everyone to live a better life.
    I walked, and I could feel, this sort of...weight, on my shoulders, and no, it wasn't anything demonic or anything like a depressing feeling, not at all. But, to me, it felt like I could actually sense what these families were going through. To a certain extent of course, I can't imagine waking up one day to realize your loved one is gone by the hand of the enemy.
    This blog post helped me remember those feeling all over again, and how the trip to the wall changed my life forever. I actually visited the traveling wall twice. Once my freshman year for choir, and just this past week with my mom and little sister. The one in Estrella made me remember my emotions from eighth grade more than the one from my freshman year.
    Probably because it seemed more intimate to be there with my mom, and not with just a bunch of kids I sang with in choir.
    I believe my whole point in this reminiscent post was to encourage people to see the wall itself or visit the Traveling Wall when it's in your area, it really is a memorable time to take out of your day and spend it with people close to you.

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    1. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your experience here. :) You are so right about that heavy feeling--I felt it, too. Almost like time had stopped, just as their lives had, and we were there in that suspended moment to remember them. It is so worth the visit. It is so important to remember.

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  15. Your reflection actually made me tear up a little. This story is very touching me and military stories always have a huge effect on me. I can never sit through a movie like Private Ryan without crying by the end. Although I’ve never been close to someone who has died in the war; so I don’t have a story like this one to connect to, but I have had many friends and family serve in the military. I’ve actually been to Washington before and I have seen the Vietnam wall so I could picture it the whole time. There’s just something about being in a place like that, that just makes you look at life with a different perspective. As you pointed out, all of the men were so young. They left behind so many family and friends and never got to finish out their life. I just want to end by Thank you to All who has put their life on line to give everyone at home a better place to live. Thank you to everyone who has had the courage to stand up and fight for this country. We are the home of free because of the brave.

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    1. I think that is very special that these stories touch you so deeply even though you don't have any loved ones in the military. You sense the sacrifice, and share that deep love for your country. THAT is pretty cool :)

      I also cannot sit through a film like Saving Private Ryan, or Taking Chase or Platoon without getting that twisting in my gut and tears in my eyes. These men and women who serve are certainly a very valiant breed.

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  16. Wow, this is deep Mrs.Caraway. Also, it brought tears to my eyes as it probably did anyone who read your post. I feel happy knowing you acknowledged the other Shelbys. You are absolutely right, every one who fought in the war should be remembered.I love it when war veterans speak of their memories in the war even if it brings back emotional pain, it makes it seem like they're fighting their own war of forgetting the actual war. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, it is very touching.

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    1. Thank you, Yulissa. :) I love how you said that they are fighting their own war of forgetting when they share their memories. You are so right...I'll bet it really is like a war every time they recall those days.

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  17. I have somewhat tough skin when it comes to these types of things. Sure, they touch my heart, but I can't say they put me in an emotional breakdown. When I visited the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC about 3-4 years ago, it made me sad. But I think it made me more appreciative than heartbroken in a way. I have heard personal military stories before. But something about this one touched me a little deeper. I guess I got to thinking about how my dad is one of my absolute best friends, and I can't imagine never knowing my own dad. The perspective I take on this is past the military aspect, but more on a personal level. But, that does not mean I am any less grateful to be living this country, or any less grateful for the people who serve for it.

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  18. I personally have not had anyone close or related to me that has been in a war, but somehow I can really find myself in this. Death is one of my biggest fears. It's not the thought of dying that scares me; it's the thought of not passing away doing everything i've always wanted to do. If I had a choice of how I wanted to pass away, I would choose to die as a hero. I know that sounds weird but I do want to be remembered, just like anyone else would.

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    1. It does not sound weird at all. :) Being remembered after we are gone--being honored--I think that is something most people would like. But I totally relate to your fears about dying before you serve your purpose in life. I think of those Shelbys and all of the life they missed. It makes me angry that people have wars in the first place. It makes me angry that there is such a lust for power. All we can do is remember those who fought the battles.

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  19. What a beautiful story Mrs. Caraway. Thank you so much for sharing!

    I don't have a story about war, but I do have one that fits the topic perfectly, I think. Here it goes...

    I lived in Phoenix all my life until 2006, when my family moved to Buckeye. As a young child, I hardly had any friends on my street. Hardly any friends at all actually, and it wasn't like I was an outcast or anything like that. I had my brother as a friend and that was really I needed.

    Well, when I moved to Buckeye, our house was among the first to be built in our community, so there weren't many people walking their dogs or kids playing out side.

    There is a street right around the block from ours. It's called "Mulberry Street". Typical. I still remember the first time we met our first friends. They were outside playing on their personal bounce house (kid magnet). My dad stopped and talked with their dad and we played with their kids and, bang, we were friends.

    More and more kids and their families filled the houses in our neighborhood. We had a whole gang. We played everyday after school until curfew (when the street lights came on). As soon as they walked off the bus, they dropped their backpacks and we started picking teams for two-hand touch football. The amount of hours we spent together cannot be counted. We dubbed ourselves as "The Mulberry Street Gang". But the funny thing is, it wasn't what street you lived on that made you apart of the clique. It was the friendship. As cheesy as that sounds, it was true. 20 or so kids, living the dream life.

    All the hours we spent pretend playing Titanic, pilgrims and indians, animal rescue, island castaways, and so many other games is overwhelming. We rotated a sport every couple of months it seemed like; basketball, kickball, hockey, soccer, baseball, etc. But, football stayed a favorite. I could tell you about everything we did and all the places we went, but it would take a lifetime.

    We all had a bond that was so special. It's something I will never forget. Something I wish I would have held dearly and not taken for granted.

    Soon, one by one, our friends and their families moved. Slowly, there were less and less people for a fair teamed football game.

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  20. Now, only my family and one more family remain from what there used to be. Whenever, I drive down that street, I am filled with such sweet memories. I can almost see all of us playing. Words cannot and never will be able to explain how much I miss it; all the time we spent together, all the trips we took, all the fights we had, all the New Years Eve barbecues, all the games of hide and go seek. I miss it so much.

    Of course, the bond is not completely broken. The memories keep it there. But its not the same. If there is anything I learned from this experience, its to NEVER EVER wish your life away and seize every moment. We spend so much time thinking about the future and we forget how beautiful this moment is. The saying, "You never what you have, until it's gone" is so true. I get so upset that I didn't realize how short and precious the time I had with those friends was and I wish I would have taken a step back and told myself that this wasn't going to last forever. But, then again, maybe I shouldn't have worried about it and enjoyed it without dread.

    Every time I recollect upon those days, I am so thankful that I got to have that experience. It's an experience that a lot of kids don't get to have these days, with all the electronics and stuff like that. I feel overwhelmingly blessed that God answered my parents prayers about new friends for their kids.

    I am learning to appreciate the moment I live in more and more. I love Odyssey so much. In some ways, I feel it has been like my "Mulberry Street Gang" experience. I have countless memories and sometimes I wish that I would never graduate because I never ever want this to end. But it makes me all the more thankful for my life and those who are in it.

    Here is a quote from one of my all time favorite songs to wrap this up...

    "Well, I've been afraid of changing
    'Cause I've built my life around you
    But time makes you bolder
    Even children get older
    And I'm getting older too"

    Seize the day.

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    1. I love that song so much Chandler. That made me so so happy that you put that!

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    2. I love your story about the Mulberry Street Gang. I also love that you are figuring this out now while you are in high school. I had a similar friendship group that you are describing in high school, and I miss them all very much. Often, I think "I wish I could have one more day to go back and really appreciate the moments." Especially the huge Polaroid Photo Scavenger Hunts we would organize on the weekends. Like you, everything we did was outside or out somewhere. Seizing the moment now is precious. I know my friend Larry wishes he could have more time with Shelby, but he is grateful for the time he had.

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  21. I have visited the Vietnam wall once in the eighth grade. Once I stepped near the wall it felt like the life was taken from me. Being there I felt as if I was consumed by the many souls that were lost trying to tell me their story. The respect level amazed me, everyone was silent, as it should be. As I read some of the names on the wall I read "William Poole" and I took a breath and took a picture and sent to my family asking if we had a William Poole in the family. My stomach dropped when I read the name, and I didn't even know if he was related to me or not. Anything that involves war has a special place in my heart because those soldiers put their life on the line so we can continue living in peace.

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    1. Isn't it interesting how we can instantly connect with something like that? What a powerful experience. I am really glad that our school gives kids the chance to see these monuments. They really make history come alive and make us all realize we are all a part of it.

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  22. I don't really have any close connections to military people in my life, but I honor every single member in the military today. Well, I do have a friend who lives in Iowa who is training in the military. I feel that every single military member should be recognized in society. They risk their lives every day in order for us to continue to live our lives the way they are. As for your story, I'm sorry about your loss. I'm sure even though you didn't know Shelby that well, it still touched you to see his name on the wall. I didn't get a chance to visit the wall, but I have been to the actual one in Washington D.C. Whenever you get the chance you should visit it, because it has a different feel then the moving wall(yes I've seen that too). It holds more power, and you can learn more soldiers stories as at least one family member is standing there with you. Military members sacrifices keep us safe, and allow America to remain free and a country.

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    1. Thank you, Matthew. Your post means a lot to me. :) I will definitely be making a trip to DC someday soon. My own uncle was recently invited to Washington (last winter) by the president along with several other WW2 servicemen who received medals in that war. He was able to visit the memorials there, and I know he cried (which is saying a lot--he never shared his stories as they were pretty gruesome). But I think it brought healing, too.

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  23. I like this story a lot (: it's much better than having to read articles haha. Also, I think that you did the correct thing by paying respects to each and every one of the Shelbys, that was very kind and thoughtful of you because they all died in this war, they all had different lives that they had to leave never to be returned to. I have visited the real Vietnam wall in the eighth grade, Aly Pool was my roommate! haha. Being there I couldn't even comprehend or try to describe the magic that I saw. It was breathtaking, yet heartbreaking seeing all of the names on that wall. All of the men/women that sacrificed their lives to keep ours free. My uncle fought in Vietnam, and I'm glad we didn't lose him. Others aren't so lucky.

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    1. First of all, please tell your Uncle Thank you so much for his service. I am glad you enjoyed the story. I am also glad you were able to visit the actual wall. You are right. It is pretty amazing to see it up close....all those names...

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  24. This reminded me much of my step father i have now. He lost his father at a young age in the Vietnam war. It was the Tet Offensive I believe he died in.. It was a sad story when i was told about it, but he fought valiantly and his loss of life will never be forgotten. Jack, like Shelby shared the guts it takes to be in the military. All of these men and woman alike fight to keep us safe, and all we do is sit here treat them like crap honestly (I'd say another word but it isn't appropriate). We don't pay them all that much, I mean like football players get paid more to sit and bash into each other. I did a little research and a private first class that has 6 years of experience only gets paid around 24 thousand a year...I feel like we don't respect these men enough.. Hearing that you took the time to find all of the Shelby's even though it wasn't just your friends friends was very very sweet of you. And i hope in the afterlife they all saw that you took the time to find them. The world needs more people like you.

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  25. This story is very touching. Even though I do not have any family connections to the Vietnam war this topic is still very important to me. I agree with you because I do not think you have to necessarily know someone to honor the legacy that they have left behind. United States soldiers are fighting to keep the citizens of their country safe. I think you did the right thing by commemorating every Shelby on the traveling Vietnam wall. Every person who has ever fought for someone else's safety and freedom is a hero, and should be thanked for it.

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  26. I like your story, I think it's interesting. To be hinest, i would rather listen to one of your stories than read one of a stranger :)

    Anyway, so I haven't had a lot of contact with the military or government in general. The closest I've ever gotten is that my two uncles were firefighters and one was a firefighter on 9/11. I also have an aunt that is an army nurse. Otherwise I don't have a lot of experience with any military personnel.

    I don't like the fact that war wages on still in our world, or the fact that our government decides to keep us in those wars. It makes me sad to think about it and I wish there was a way to solve our problems. But as you have said, if it was easy to solve, then it would already have been solved. I once heard someone say that they don't support the war, but they support the soldiers. That's how I feel. I don't pray for the war efforts, but I pray for the people that are in our military and navy and all those positions that put them into danger.

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    1. Why, thank you, Amy! :)

      I would say knowing a firefighter on 9/11 is pretty amazing. And army nurses? Well--they are really the hope of our guys out there fighting in the fields.

      I don't like war, either. I don't ever understand it. There are times when honestly? I wish we could go back to isolationism. I agree with you: I don't always support war (though I support WW2 efforts) but I will always support our men and women in uniform. I am happy to know you are praying for them. :)

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  27. This story made me really sad but still filled with American pride. Both of my grandfathers were in World War II, but only one was actually in the fight, I never thought of asking him about it because he never talked about it himself. I do know that when I was in the third grade my family went to Hawaii on vacation and we visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial and the USS Arizona. I was young and really had no prior knowledge about the attack so I didn’t fully appreciate what I was able to see, which isn’t something everyone is lucky enough to see. Now looking back on it, it was pretty amazing. I stood over this sunken ship, a tomb to countless men, sons, husbands, fathers, and friends that were taken to soon. The names on the walls were all I had to connect with them and all we really have to remember them and all you can do is stand there in silence thanking them for their service and sacrifice. They lost their lives for our freedom and that is something we can never repay. They are true American Heros.

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    1. Pearl Harbor is such a life changing sight. Maybe it is because I have such a strong interest in WW2, but you are right: standing over a tomb to countless men and then reading their names on a wall? That takes your breath away.

      Someday, go back and visit again. Hawaii is gorgeous, but it also whispers of heroes. :)

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  28. I enjoyed reading this story of your. It touched my heart and I can relate to it. Although, I didn't have any family members in the Vietnam War, or in the military in general but, I can relate to growing up and not having that special person always there, just like Shelby's daughter. Growing up I never really thought of my mom and dad as 'parents', because my mom was always working, and my dad would always work during the weekdays and go serve time in jail on weekends. Therefore, I somehow thought my grandparents were my 'parents'. I remember always going to soccer practices or games, and kids having their parents there cheering them on, bringing them water, or even checking up on them when they got hurt. I would always be and I still am jealous of those kids because, I wish my mom or dad would do that. Plus it's sucks because then I was left with an emptiness inside that I tried to fill with guys, or partying or something when in reality I just needed the love and affection that my parents never gave me. Emptiness is a way I connect with Shelby's daughter because she lost her father and unfortunately, he wasn't there, as for me I never had both of my parents there for me even though they had the option to.

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    1. I love that you shared this story, Amanda, and with your permission, I'd love to share it with Shelby's friend (and my dear friend) Larry.

      You really do relate in a way to Shelby's daughter, and I love that you shared that angle here. I am sorry that you didn't get the time to spend with your parents in your childhood. Remember this now, so that when you are grown you seize every moment with your own children. :)

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  29. My family, much like yours' visited the wall while it was in Estrella. The sheer number of the names, each being in actuality so much more than just a name. The idea of war is just one of horror, seeing who can take less casualties, seeing how many lives an ideal or a system of government needs to take before people give in. The futility of it all is overwhelming. Though I do appreciate those who gave their lives in a war, those who fought for those ideals, I also realize how unneeded their deaths were. There is so often war where there needs not be. Diplomatic solutions are entirely possible for these things. I dream of a future where nobody needs to feel this loss again.

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  30. I visited the Oklahoma City Bombing National Memorial and Museum the summer before 8th grade.
    I found out that this a domestic terrorist attack, on a Federal Building in downtown OK City. And 168 people were killed, while over 680 others were injured. Within a 16 mile radius of the bomb explosion, 324 buildings were damaged, or destroyed. One of these included the 'America's Kids Daycare Center', where many of the Federal Building workers left their children.

    15 of the 168 killed, were children in that daycare center.

    As a much younger child, I didn't think i would kind this trip important. But it was. When I was there we visited a wall with a ton a items left for the victims, and it displayed pictures and names of people I'd never met, but somehow felt that I owed them all of my respect and attention. So I spent the rest of the time quite attentive to all that I saw.
    Next we approached a grassy area where glass structures were placed along the grass, in a way that resembled a beautiful cemetery. There were exactly 168, (in my opinion) headstones for those who had died.

    Seeing that was insane. It put into perspective what that kind of number really looks like. It's seems so small at first, so acceptable, until you see it laid out to you, so innocently, and beautifully, but so massively.

    Going to the museum was what really hit home.I saw pictures of the damage done, and videos from the day it happened, and you got to see the names and pictures of people lost. I just couldn't believe that some men decided that it was okay to bomb a Federal Building, in close proximity to a Daycare, all for the sake of trying to prove a point to the government that they didn't like.
    15 kids died that day. 15 kids who may or may not have died along with their parents that day. And all it took was a mindless act.
    But those people will not be forgotten. Someone will always know who they were. If their name is in a museum, if their name is in someone heart, if their name has ever crossed someones eyes, they have not been forgotten. I will not let them be forgotten.

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  31. I think it's a shame seeing all of those names and just thinking that every single one of them were actual people whose lives were lost, I couldn't imagine how all of the people who had lost someone feel. This is what gives war that feeling of terror and horror and make people hate the thought of it, just knowing it leads to the death of so many innocent is too much for anyone to handle. Even for those that have not lost anyone close to them realize how important every single person. We all look at the names and understand how significant their lives were, not only to win a war, but also with all of the people they affected in their individual lives.

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  32. I remember in 7th grade when Odyssey took their first trip to Washington, D.C. We were in 7th grade so we had a concept of loss and war but I don't think it really hit all of us until we started seeing some of the memorials. Each memorial represent loss in different ways, through stars or names on a wall... ect. Once you actually see the names, count the stars, it really hits you. It's a similar sensation to walking through a graveyard and seeing each of the names and quotes on the tombstones. It's heartbreaking and it also reflects on your loved ones. Personally, I feel loss is the hardest emotion to feel.

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  33. It was interesting to actually be able to read a personal story from you and not an article, or something subjective with regards to the views of someone else and the story they're trying to tell.

    I don't have anything like this to share myself, but I do have my own kind of story that I feel somewhat relates to this.

    I was watching Bones (this particular episode is called "The Patriot in Purgatory") on Netflix and there was a particular episode where the supporting characters were given a task by the title character. They were asked to give a name and a face to as many unidentified remains in the lab as possible. They stumbled across the body of a man who had all these markings in his bones and whatnot. They were able to deduce that he had died some time after 9/11, after sustaining substantial injuries.

    After an investigation by Seeley Booth, one of the main characters, along with the work of the supporting characters vigorously working to identify this man and see how he died, they learned that he was a homeless veteran that served in Desert Storm and hung around the Pentagon all the time — shouting the names of officers that died in that war. They found out he was there, at the Pentagon, on 9/11 and saved the lives of three people that were crushed beneath the rubble. He sustained these injuries to his bones when he lifted cement off these people to get them to safety — and later died from these injuries without no one knowing what happened to him.

    They were able to locate his wife, and they gave him a proper burial with a face, and a name.

    For some reason, this episode struck me even if it was all completely fictional. The three people this man saved never got to tell him thank you, and they never knew his name. They attended the funeral, a way of offering their condolences and thanks for saving their lives.

    Seeley Booth never stopped searching for this man's identity, simply because he understood that the man was a war veteran and wanted to do justice for someone who served his country.

    I'll never forget this episode and the emotional turmoil everyone was thrown into just to slap a name onto someone so extraordinary. I made myself crying just by typing this; it's a very important episode to me, and gave me a completely new perspective.

    These people never gave up looking for him, kind of what happened when you tried to hunt down the particular Shelby you were looking for. They managed to discover something amazing and wonderful through their hard work and determination.

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    1. Now you have made me cry. :) Yes, the Shelby who was the friend of my dear friend was, as it happens, the last Shelby we found. When my friend texted me, I remember I was standing right in front of Shelby Long and I cried. It meant so much.

      I do remember that Bones episode. It was an awesome story. Once again, I turn to Churchill... "Never has so much been owed to so few by so many." Well said.

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  34. This story of the seven Shelbys is very touching by itself. The story and memory of those who have given their lives for their country is always saddening and uplifting through their sacrifice, and the brave examples they set.

    This story also illustrates how we often find a much deeper idea to contemplate when we start investigating something. You started off going for the sake of one Shelby, and found seven, each with their own story of sacrifice. This certainly illustrates the worth of investigating, because even if someone thought they already knew the story of one Shelby, they might miss out on the other six by not looking deeper. There is so much good in the world, and so many amazing things that people have done, that we need to look deeper whenever we can, so we can learn from them and properly honour their lives.

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  35. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I've never paid much attention to the individual soldiers. I always see them as a whole unit of loss. Reading this story reminded me that there are individual faces that people love, which is something I really needed. If these people are laying down their lives to protect mine, the least anyone could do is take time to learn a few names and faces. I, too, visited the Moving Wall. I actually did cry when I started reading their individual names. I could imagine the soldiers, young and old.Their never ending bravery. And so, I started to write them down.

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