The Union Recorder

Columns

May 31, 2014

ROWLAND: More than a name on a wall

Mike Rowland — In a former life, I was a high school principal. I always chuckle a little when I hear myself say that because I have a lot of friends from my own high school days that might find my life’s vocation hard to believe.

I wasn’t listed in my high school yearbook as most likely to do anything, but I am pretty sure that no one from my past had high school principal in their crosshairs.

Regardless, over the 11 years of my adulthood that I called a high school home, I got to do some pretty cool things and get to know some very amazing people. John Williams was one of those people, and the cool thing he did was to take a group of seventh graders each year to Washington D.C.

John passed away well ahead of his 40th birthday, but he touched a lot of lives over his years… not the least of which was mine.

So, when my youngest son was in the seventh grade, I went as a chaperone for the “DC Trip” as it was affectionately called. It turned out to be one of the more powerful experiences of my life.

Since that time, I have been to our nation’s capital about half a dozen times. I have walked through The National Mall and the various monuments scattered throughout the area, but none affected me like standing before The Vietnam Memorial with my 12-year-old son. The year was 2001.

In case you didn’t know, The Vietnam Memorial is located in Constitution Garden. According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial website, The Wall as it is most often called, was completed in November, 1982.

The two walls measure 246.75 feet each. One wall stretches to the east toward the Washington Monument and the other to the west toward the Lincoln Memorial. Inscribed on the wall are the names of more than 58,000 American men and women who are considered casualties of the Vietnam War.

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