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November 13, 1982 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-11-13

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OPINION

;-

Page 4

The Michigan Daily>

Saturday, November 13, 1982

The

Vietnam Memorial: Some reflections

By Janet Rae
WASHINGTON - We.had wandered
along the Mall for more than an hour,
relishing the last throes of one of
Washington, D.C.'s spectacular Indian
summers. "It's somewhere between
the Washington Monument and the Lin-
coln Memorial," we had been told. As
much as our feet were beginning to
hurt, we were determined to cover
every square inch of that vast territory
until we had seen it for ourselves.
We had been told it wasn't complete
yet, that the workmen were still car-
ving name after name into the polished
black granite. My friend Vonnie was a
baby when her uncle was killed in Viet-
nam. She had heard so many stories as
a child about the man she had never
met. She didn't want to share her first
sight of his "memorial" with the crush
of tourists due in for the dedication
ceremonies the following week.
The search became a game. We were
laughing when Vonnie first caught sight
of it, slashed deeply into the rolling
lawn. Her face smoothed abruptly into
silence. I remember a chill moving
slowly along my spine.
A waist-high picket fence kept us
from running our fingers over the
gleaming stone. The names were
white scratches stretching 10 feet
high at the center of the massive "v"

formed by the monument walls. Even
at our obligatory distance, our reflec-
tion shone back at us, flecked with
name after name after name.
It's dedication day at the new
Vietnam memorial. A veteran
carrying a giggling blond-haired girl
in his arms moves through the crush
of people surrounding the walls. He
pauses to read a name, moving
closer to the wall to caress it.
"Daddy, daddy--look at me, "
squeals his daughter, patting the
reflection of her shining face
through the etched names.
"Yes, honey. You are beautiful,"
her father says, moving on down the
cement walkway.
Vonnie stood motionless gazing at the
monument. Not another person was in
sight. Only the reverberating engines of
jetliners cruising low over the Potomac
on their way to National Airport broke
the silence.
We could see a squirrel leaping
across one of the top of the walls, stop-
ping now and then to lean precariously
over the wall, sniffing at the polished
surface.
A middle-aged man strains on his
tiptoes near the monument's apex,
holding the wooden staffs of two

small. American flags against the
wall in a "v" shape to outline his
son's name. A television camera
crew moves in. One of the crew
members turns to a graying woman
a few feet away insisting she join her
husband by the wall.
"No, I can't. I'll cry," she said,
as friends lead her forward, pulling,
her hand up to join her husband
beside the flag. She turns, flushed,
toward the wall.
"This way, please, " the
cameraman demands. She turns her
head briefly toward the camera,
then quickly moves away from the
wall, pushing people aside as she
flees.
"I don't know anything about this
war," Vonnie whispered. "I don't know
anything about war at all. Our
generation never had its war like all the
others."
She fell silent again, still staring at
the black wall.
The grass at the base of the walls
is strewn with long-stemmed roses,
potted plants, homemade Christmas
wreaths, and needlework wall
hangings, each dedicated by a small
note to a platoon or an individual

soldier. A veteran dressed in battle
fatigues, one sleeve hanging empty
at his side, breaks from the crowd.
Hastily, he places a small light box
at the base of the wall and rushes
away. The crowd leans forward to
look inside the box. Carefully
arranged on mounds of cotton are
four medals, one of them a Purple
Heart.
Without a word, I left Vonnie alone
for a while there by the fence. She and I
had been living in Washington, city of
cold marble and patriotism, for two
months. When we had seen the Marine
Corps memorial and larger-than-life
soldiers raising an American flag at
Iwo Jima, we had enjoyed a rousing
debate on whether a nation should
glorify war. Our trip to the Pentagon's
room honoring Medal of Valor recipien-
ts had ended with a heated discussion of
U.S. arms policy.
It was dark by the time we left the
Vietnam war memorial. We walked
home in silence.
Rae, a Daily staff writer, is spen-
ding this term working as an intern
for the Washington bureau of The
Los Angeles Times.

4

0

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sinclair

4

(Rjc. t .L 7 -Q, Th

Vol. XCIII, No. 57

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

High hopes; low turnout

/ UJLL OF CouRSE'E
TEE ARE A
FEw QJ UGS LEFT
Tit IS is LL HOLD
up au RSC~kET)ULE

40

T HE LOW turnout ,for Thursday's
convocation on the nuclear arms
race doesn't say much for the freeze
movement's support. It says even less
for students.
All the signs had pointed to a resoun-
ding success for the convocation. It
had a national, scope--500 such con-
vocations were held simultaneously at
colleges across the country. It had big
names-here, figures such as Harold
Shapiro and Sen. Carl Levin turned out
to back the event.
The only thing missing, really, was
the students--only 150 or so people
showed up, and pitifully few of them
were enrolled at the University.
Perhaps it's not surprising that hor-
des of students failed to materialize;
the problem of social and political
apathy on campus is common
knowledge.
What is surprising is that students
failed to show up for a forum so much
in their own interest. The freeze
movement has sparked such high
hopes at the University. Die-ins in
front of the LSA Building have thrived.
Student government bodies have em-
braced the cause wholeheartedly. It
seemed that the freeze was an issue
universal enough to breathe new life

into student activism.
But students, at least judging by
their interest in the convocation, may
be paying nothing more to the freeze
than lip service. For many students the
freeze may be merely the "in" cause to
support-not as controversial as
military research or divestment, not
as convoluted as University redirec-
tion. Student support for the freeze
may not extend much beyond sporting
a trendy "no-nukes" button.
But the message to students with a
deep commitment to halting the arms
race is not one of discouragement. If
ever an issue deserved--or had the
potential-to ignite student interest, it
is the freeze. Students may be too in-
volved in piling up academic credits to
worry about such crusades, some
argue. The arms race, however, is the
one cause that is most intimately tied
to everyone's future. Solving it, in fact,
is a prerequisite to having any sort of
future at all.
The low student turnout is more of a
challenge than an indictment. As
President Shapiro said, it places an
even greater burden on those who did
show up to spread the word that the
world needs an end to nuclear mad-
ness.

A'

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

6

Candy is dandy but books are better

MPAj N OW -HE MXMASTERP'
ACP --- R
PE41
. t l.+R

To the Daily:
Your editorial of November 10
on removing the vending
machines from the Graduate and
Undergraduate Libraries raised
some interesting questions about
library use.
We believe that we have some
different ideas on what is impor-
tant. Of concern to us is the
deterioration of studygfacilities.
You yourselves graphically
describe book destruction due to
food in your most impressive
journalistic style. You also point
out (disapprovingly)thatsome
people do think that libraries
should be "quiet and spotless,"
as opposed to their present con-
dition. We feel that the prime
commitment of libraries should
be storage and access to books
and other study and research
materials.
You, on the other hand, in-
dicate that the prime commit-
ment of the libraries is "con-
venience and accessibility of the

lounges, but, in a way, it really
doesn't matter." What really
does seem to matter to you is the
"right to junk food." The Daily
implies that readily available
food is as important to a library
study situation as undamaged
materials.
We enjoy the lounge con-
veniences as much as anybody;
in fact, we're regulars at the
Grad lounge. However, with
these conveniences there's bound

to be abuses which ruin our
materials and study facilities in a
very real fashion. If food and
library materials can't exist
together, which would the Daily
editors rather see go? It's a mat-
ter of priorities. We feel that
libraries are for reading and
thinking-not eating and
drinking.
It's clear that the Daily's
position would deteriorate the
quality of academics in order to

avoid walking to Stop-N-Go. We
hope that you write another
editorial after re-weighing the
crucial right to junk food againt
the preservation of study e0-
vironment and library research
materials.
-Gregory Buechae
Michael Growe
Phil Argiroff
November it

Daily, student governmen

To the Daily:
Student governments, although
they are relatively young as
organizations and have little
power in University government,
have achieved definite gains for
students. Yet, the Daily regularly
chides student governments on
their legitimacy and effec-
tiveness for students.

faculty, and administrators com-
plain about the quality of the
Daily's journalism. I have been
misquoted and misunderstood by
Daily writers in several different
articles. One could even argue
that the Daily's approach is inap-
propriate for this University s
student newspaper.
The Daily could renlv. "If you

tsflawed :
increased student interest and
participation. It seems that the
student organization of the Daily
and its problems are not so dif-
ferent from those of student
governments. A more positive at,
titude, urging intereset
discussion, and involvement
would benefit the Daily, student
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