Items Left at The Wall

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note, handwritten

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 00612
  • Accession Date:2/12/1985
  • Item Summary:Handwritten note upon a sheet torn from a spiral calendar page dated February 1986. The note reads, "I'm so sorry Frankie - / I know we left you - / I hope you didn't suffer too much - / give them hell -". The artifact was left at The Wall by an anonymous Vietnam veteran between November 1984 - February 1985.

flag, United States national

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 00622
  • Accession Date:2/12/1985
  • Item Summary:United States national flag, also referred to as an "American" flag. A handwritten inscription upon the flagpole/staff reads, " "JOHNNY K" / "REST BRO" / DIRTY DOZ / LARAW[illegible] / HON. H." The artifact was left at The Wall by an unidentified donor between November 1984 - February 1985.

poem, printed


  • Catalog Number:VIVE 00616
  • Accession Date:2/12/1985
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: N/A
  • Item Summary:Printed poem entitled, "THE 'V' - NOT FORGETTING - 1984" by author, "Tom Rutt [?]" In content, the poem employs the rhetorical device of the 'V' shaped design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM) to speak of what remains in life for the author wrestling with survivor's guilt following the humor, anger, blame, brutality, death, and grief inherent to the Vietnam War and era and the loss of cherished comrades. The artifact was left at The Wall by Vietnam veteran Tom Rutt [?] between November 1984 - February 1985.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00005
  • Record Component Qty:3
  • Item Description:PRINTED POEM. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A POEM PRINTED IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE, UNLINED PAPER BACKED BY A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED, THREE (3) HOLE PUNCHED SHEET OF BLACK CONSTRUCTION PAPER AND HOUSED INSIDE A CLEAR POLY-PLASTIC, THREE (3) HOLE PUNCHED DOCUMENT SLEEVE SECURED ALONG THE UPPER AND LOWER EDGES VIA STRIPS OF CLEAR, ADHESIVE SCOTCH TAPE. THE POEM IS ENTITLED, "THE 'V' - NOT FORGETTING - 1984", IS BY AUTHOR, "TOM RUTT [?]", AND IS DIVIDED INTO FOUR (4) SEPARATE, VERTICAL COLUMNS AND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE (121) TOTAL LINES. IN CONTENT, THE POEM EMPLOYS THE RHETORICAL DEVICE OF THE 'V' SHAPED DESIGN OF THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM) TO SPEAK OF WHAT REMAINS IN LIFE FOR THE AUTHOR WRESTLING WITH SURVIVOR'S GUILT FOLLOWING THE HUMOR, ANGER, BLAME, BRUTALITY, DEATH, AND GRIEF INHERENT TO THE VIETNAM WAR AND ERA AND THE LOSS OF CHERISHED COMRADES. IN THIS VEIN, THE POEM OPENS WITH THE LINES, "THE 'V', / THAT'S ALL / THAT'S LEFT. / HARD BLACK / STONE........", AND CLOSES WITH THE LINES, "WHAT'S LEFT? / OUR LONGING, / FOR YOU. / OUR BROKEN / SOULS. / OUR LOVE AND / THIS 'V' / WITH ALL / YOUR / NAMES / CUT INTO / IT." A SIGNATURE HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND CURSIVE SCRIPT AND READING, "TOM RUTT [?]" IS OBSERVED AT THE LOWER, PROPER LEFT-HAND CORNER OF THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE SHEET.
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the printed inscriptions upon the obverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: "THE 'V' - NOT FORGETTING - 1984 / The 'V', / that's all / that's left. / Hard Black / Stone........ / Cut with your / Names. / I remember / when you left, / by Greyhound / Bus and by / Jets, / and then you / DIED....... / Remember when / we took our / physicals?/ "Follow the line, / bend over, / spread 'em" / We thought it / was a / joke / that day, / the last Day / I saw / You. / What do we do / NOW? / Just Cry? / Nothing more. / The ANGER is / still there, / a knot / inside my / GUT....... / for all this / time. / Who is there / to Hate or / Blame? / I don't know. / But, believe / me, / it doesn't / Go Away. / It was so / dirty, / so brutal..... / some say / No One / came home from / Nam. / Some say / we all / fought that / War, we're / all Veterans / of Viet Nam. / But I don't / Believe it, / Do You? / No...some / paid, You / Paid, the rest / of us just / CRY. / Some bled, / some DIED, / some just / lost their / Insides. / You - Steve, / A Gentle / Soul. / You - Jimmy, / A little wild / but all / Heart. / You - Bob, / made it home / wounded and / DIED before / they could pin / your Medal / on You... / And Dickie, / I didn't even / know..... / they killed / You TOO. / God, I'm / Sorry. / And so many / Others.... / Strange how / I Hurt / So Much / after / So Long. / How I Grieve / for You / and how Deep / IT goes / Inside me. / You were my / Brothers and / You DIED. / I live. / What's left? / Our Longing, / for You. / Our broken / Souls. / Our Love and / this 'V' / with all / Your / Names / Cut into / IT. / Tom Rutt [?]"
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 16.1g
    • Item Length: 28.0cm
    • Item Width: 21.5cm
    • Item Height: N/A
    • Item Depth: N/A
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Items left at The Wall - The Virtual Collection

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982. Shortly thereafter, visitors to the Memorial began leaving items in memoriam to those killed and missing service members listed on The Wall. These artifacts now collectively comprise the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection -- a museum collection of more than 400,000 items held in the public trust by the National Park Service. Today, this Collection is among the largest and most actively researched collections in the National Capital Region.

The Collection is jointly curated by National Mall and Memorial Parks and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). The VVMF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies upon public donations to continue its work, and receives no federal funding.