Inspiration: The Man at the Wall This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Atthe end of eighth grade, our class went to Washington, D.C. For a bunch of14-year-olds, this was a big deal! It was the first time we'd gone anywherewithout our parents, and we could stay in hotel rooms with our best friends.

The first day was so exhausting, we could hardly grasp where we were andwhat we were seeing. The next morning, we were off to see monuments, startingwith Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. From the amazing Korean War Memorial, wewalked along the cracked paths that twisted and turned through trees. Then thewall came into view - the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

As I inched closer tothe Wall, many people came into view, and I heard a bagpipe in the distancepaying tribute to the lives lost in the jungles of Vietnam.

We continuedwalking in complete awe of the number of names chiseled in the black granite. Iwas determined to find a soldier with my last name, but my quest was interruptedwhen a man caught my eye. He was kneeling at the Wall, a single rose at his feet.His head was bowed and he was rubbing his thumb over one name. I thought, How sadand heartbreaking, then moved on.

After a few minutes I found anengraving of my last name, but my eyes returned to the kneeling man. He was stillrubbing his thumb over the same name. This time, I stood back and started tothink. I didn't know the effects of war, but that man suffered a great loss. Heknows what war is all about. I thought about how war has affected so manyfamilies.

The sun began to set, the sky turning a dull orange highlightedwith wispy pink clouds. I could no longer hear the bagpipes. Yet, the kneelingman was still rubbing his thumb over the name.

Teachers started to roundup the students, but I stood where I'd stopped 30 minutes earlier to watch theman. Not once did he lift his head or stop rubbing his thumb gently across thename. He never knew I was watching him. The only thing he cared about was theperson he had lost in the war. It was time for me to leave the kneeling man andthe Wall.

The rest of the trip was great, but of all the memories, the manat the Wall tops all. I have never lost a loved one in a war, and I never knewthe full effects of war until I saw that man. Many have suffered great losses; Ionly know about war from history classes. The kneeling man taught me more aboutwar and the effect it has on people than any history book.

Never have Ibeen so touched. I wish I could tell this man what he has done for me, but Ican't. I never even saw his face.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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blueandorange This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 24, 2010 at 7:09 am
Very thought-provoking.  I loved it.
 
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