Vietnam Veterans Memorial

There are TVs in my elevator at work.  It’s a brave new advertising strategy that is designed to target captive, young and rich audiences (we are, apparently, are on average: 39 year old professionals, 60% in management, with 66% graduating from collage and a household income of $105K) on their hazy commute to and from work.  Now, it’s not all advertising, there are fun facts, and polls (you can vote at their website!  It’s interactive!), and the word-of-the-day, but mostly it’s just a fantastic excuse to not have to talk to the other person in the elevator with you without feeling awkward.  The company’s name is Captivate, and the silly TVs are, apparently, a vehicle to reach the target audience during the part of the day where they are already making purchase decisions.  It’s very subliminal, in a not at all subliminal way.  This is called “Captivate time.”  I call it “I don’t know that person from the 5th floor, though I’ve seen them around, so instead of making awkward small talk, I’ll be very interested in how Lyle Lovett and Anthony Kiedis were born on the same day.  Imagine!  Lyle Lovett is 45 years old!”



I read this morning on the TV in the elevator that the Vietnam memorial opened today in 1982.  I remember going there with my family when I was younger, and my mother looking for the names of people she knew.  She was in the army around the time of the Vietnam war.  


Knowing that the memorial opened in 1982 makes a lot of little things snap into place. I knew it had opened during my lifetime, but I didn’t realize that when we went in 1983, or when I was in 1th grade, it had just barely opened.  I remember the memorial being very crowded, with people silently reading the wall, and red roses everywhere.  I guess until now I thought it would always be that way, the black gash in the ground filled with silent and somber people.  When I went back during high school while attending a conference in DC, I was surprised at how few people were there – I know now that maybe that’s probably just the way it is these days.  I also remember a conversation between my Mom and my 1st grade teacher, who was also a veteran.  We lived right up the hill from the school in Oak Ridge and sometimes she and my baby brother would walk down to get me at the end of the day.  I recall waiting on the front steps of the school as she spoke with him about our visit to the memorial.  I think it must have been just before we went to the memorial.  I thought that people of my mother’s age, especially Vietnam vets, just talked about this stuff with others quite freely. I guess that’s not the case really. I have always felt very strongly that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the best memorial that could have ever gone up, because I have seen the way my mother and other visitors reacted to it, but I am always shocked to remember that it wasn’t always there, and it wasn’t an easy thing to be built.


This must be a belated veterans day entry, hey?  Happy Veterans Day, Mommy.