Items Left at The Wall

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letter, handwritten

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 00644
  • Accession Date:4/18/1985
  • Item Summary:Handwritten letter dedicated to U.S. Army Sergeant (SGT) William Reed Stocks. The letter is headed, "A mother never forgets", is addressed, "Dear Bill", is signed, "Mom", bears the donor information for, "Mother- / Eleanor Wimbish" at the reverse surface, and opens with the lines, "Today is February 13, 1985. / I sit here writing to you with the tears falling quietly down my face while outside the rain is hitting on the window as if to tell me the whole world is crying with me as if it, too, feels my pain." In content, SGT Stocks' mother relates her difficulty in getting through the anniversary of her son's death, particularly considering that the day is also SGT Stocks' father's & nephew's birthday, and states to this effect that, "This time of the year is so hard for me for I will never forget the exact moment when I heard of your death and the pain as my heart broke, on that never to be forgotten day." Ms. Wimbish concludes her letter to her son with the line, "There are many changes in our lives, as the years go by, but the love we all have for you my son, my Billy will never change." The artifact was left at Panel 32W of The Wall by Eleanor Wimbish, mother of SGT Stocks, on February 13, 1985.

letter & poem, handwritten

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 00657
  • Accession Date:2/12/1985
  • Item Summary:Handwritten note & poem dedicated to U.S. Army Sergeant (SGT) William Reed Stocks. The handwritten note is from SGT Stocks' mother Eleanor Wimbish, is headed, "William R. Stocks", is addressed, "Dear Bill", is signed, "Mom", and states that, "Below is a poem that will show how much I miss you, how much I hurt and how much I still love you." The handwritten note is accompanied by two (2) photocopied black & white photographic prints depicting SGT Stocks as a twenty-one (21) year-old serviceman in Vietnam and as a nine (9) year-old child, respectively. Ms. Wimbish begins the handwritten poem by reminiscing about important days in SGT Stocks life and speculating as to which day she would choose to spend with him if she could live life over again, recalls the heartbreak and grief of his passing and notes that she would not choose any of the days associated with his military service or the notification of his death to experience a second (2nd) time, and concludes her poem with the lines, "So never again will my arms hold you tight for you've gone to your / home in the sky. / So until God calls me to be with you there, in my heart you'll / be ever alive!" The artifact was left at Panel 32W of The Wall by Eleanor Wimbish, mother of SGT Stocks, between November 1984 - February 1985.

letter, handwritten


  • Catalog Number:VIVE 00655
  • Accession Date:4/18/1985
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: WILLIAM R STOCKS
  • Item Summary:Handwritten letter dedicated to U.S. Army Sergeant (SGT) William Reed Stocks. The letter from SGT Stocks' mother, is signed, "Written by a mother who lost her son in Vietnam but still cares about those who are still unaccounted for. / Eleanor Wimbish", bears the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM) Wall honoree & donor information, "William R. Stocks / (SPANKY) / Mother / Eleanor Wimbish" handwritten at the reverse surface, and opens with the line, "In our home, in our family and in our lives the Vietnam war will never end." In content, Ms. Wimbish expresses the personal anguish of losing her child in the lines, "I'm the one whose heart broke when told my Billy had died in a helicopter crash. / And now I'm the one who still cries at night because of all the memories I have, that will never die." She concludes her letter with a plea for assistance on behalf of all American POW*MIA's still held in Vietnam which reads, "They are Americans. / They are husbands, sons, fathers, brothers and much, much more. / Please help to get these men back home and end the suffering for them, their families and all their loved ones." The artifact was left at Panel 32W of The Wall by Eleanor Wimbish, mother of SGT Stocks, between February - April 1985.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00007
  • Related Items: VIVE 00644 - letter, handwritten
    VIVE 00657 - letter & poem, handwritten
    VIVE 00705 - letter, handwritten
    VIVE 00815 - letter, handwritten
  • Record Component Qty:1
  • Item Description:HANDWRITTEN LETTER DEDICATED TO U.S. ARMY SERGEANT (SGT) WILLIAM REED STOCKS. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A LETTER HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK/CURSIVE SCRIPT & ARABIC NUMERALS UPON THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACES OF TWO (2) RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEETS OF WHITE, UNLINED PAPER. THE SHEETS ARE PRESENTLY AFFIXED (VIA NUMEROUS STRIPS OF CLEAR, ADHESIVE SCOTCH TAPE) SIDE-BY-SIDE TO AN UNDERLYING, RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SEGMENT OF BROWN CARDBOARD WRAPPED WITH WHITE GIFT TISSUE PAPER. THE ENTIRE OBJECT (LETTER SHEETS & CARDBOARD SUBSTRATE) IS PRESENTLY ENCASED WITHIN CLEAR POLY-PLASTIC SHEETING SECURED AT THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE VIA STRIPS OF CLEAR, ADHESIVE PACKING TAPE. THE LETTER IS FROM SGT STOCKS' MOTHER, IS SIGNED, "WRITTEN BY A MOTHER WHO LOST HER SON IN VIETNAM BUT STILL CARES ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE STILL UNACCOUNTED FOR, / ELEANOR WIMBISH", BEARS THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM) WALL HONOREE & DONOR INFORMATION, "WILLIAM R. STOCKS / (SPANKY) / MOTHER / ELEANOR WIMBISH" HANDWRITTEN UPON THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND AND LOWER, PROPER LEFT-HAND CORNERS, RESPECTIVELY, OF THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE CARDBOARD SUBSTRATE, AND OPENS WITH THE LINE, "IN OUR HOME, IN OUR FAMILY AND IN OUR LIVES THE VIETNAM WAR WILL NEVER END." IN CONTENT, THE AUTHOR BEGINS HER LETTER BY NOTING, "[...] AN EMPTINESS AND THE NEVER ENDING QUESTIONS OF WHY?" RESULTANT OF HER SON'S DEATH, SUBSEQUENTLY ASKS A SERIES OF RHETORICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT WHERE THIS GIVING, LOVING SON, BROTHER, FRIEND, & LOVED ONE HAS GONE, AND ANSWERS THESE QUESTIONS WITH THE REPLY, "HE WENT WHERE SO MANY, MANY OTHER YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WENT. / HE WENT TO WAR." THE AUTHOR THEN PROCEEDS TO CHARACTERIZE HER SON AS, "[...] JUST A MEMORY [...] A NAME ON A BLACK WALL IN WASHINGTON, D.C., SURROU-NDED [sic] BY 58,021 OTHER NAMES", ACKNOWLEDGES THAT SHE VISITS THE MEMORIAL OFTEN TO SEE AND TOUCH HIS NAME, AND AGONIZES THAT, "[...] EACH TIME I FEEL PAIN, FOR YOU SEE I AM HIS MOM." MS. WIMBISH THEN DESCRIBES HER ROLE IN SOOTHING SGT STOCKS AS A BABY, TEACHING HIM MORALITY AS A CHILD, & PRAYING FOR HIM DURING HIS MILITARY SERVICE AS A YOUNG ADULT IN VIETNAM, AND PAINFULLY RECOLLECTS THAT, "I'M THE ONE WHOSE HEART BROKE WHEN TOLD MY BILLY HAD DIED IN A HELICOPTER CRASH. / AND NOW I'M THE ONE WHO STILL CRIES AT NIGHT BECAUSE OF ALL THE MEMORIES I HAVE, THAT WILL NEVER DIE." THE AUTHOR GOES ON TO RHETORICALLY ADDRESS VIETNAM DIRECTLY; NOTING THAT THE WAR BROKE HER HEART, TOOK HER SENSE OF SECURITY, AND ULTIMATELY TOOK AWAY HER SON. SHE THEN TRANSCENDS HER OWN GRIEF TO CALL ATTENTION TO THE TRAGEDY OF, "[...] 2,482 AMERICAN MEN STILL BEING HELD IN VIETNAM", AND INQUIRES AS TO WHAT IS BEING DONE TO RETURN THESE MEN TO THEIR HOMES AND END THE SUFFERING OF THEIR FAMILIES. MS. WIMBISH CLOSES WITH A MEDITATION UPON THE MEANING OF THE WORD, "FREEDOM" AND IT'S INAPPLICABILITY TO POW*MIA's STILL BEING HELD IN VIETNAM, AND CONCLUDES HER LETTER WITH THE LINES, "THEY [POW*MIA's] ARE HUSBANDS, SONS, FATHERS, BROTHERS AND MUCH, MUCH MORE. / PLEASE HELP TO GET THESE MEN BACK HOME AND END THE SUFFERING FOR THEM, THEIR FAMILIES AND ALL THEIR LOVED ONES." THE OBJECT IS VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL IN CONTENT TO AN ASSOCIATED HANDWRITTEN LETTER (VIVE (815)). THE OBJECT IS ASSOCIATED WITH VIVE (644, 657, 705, & 815).
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the handwritten inscriptions upon the obverse and reverse object surfaces is transcribed in full, as follows: [Obverse object surface, page 1, handwritten inscriptions] "In our home, in our family and in our lives the Vietnam war will never end. / There is no enemy that you can see. / There are no weapons, no fighting, no hard-ships [sic], just an emptiness and the never ending questions of why? / Where did he go this young son of mine, who was so full of life and who had this gift of giving, this gift of laughter, this gift of love? / Where did he go this brother, who gave so much time, caring and love to his brother and 3 sisters? / Where did he go this friend and loved one who left an emptiness in the lives of so many? / He went where so many, many other young men and women went. / He went to war. / He took his laughter, his jokes and his love for life and went to a far away country called Vietnam. / Flying away, late one night, from his loved ones to unknown lands and unknown dangers. / And where is he now? / Now he is just a memory. / Now he is a name on a black wall in Washington, D.C., surrou-nded [sic] by 58,021 other names. / I come to this memorial often to see and touch his name William R. Stocks. / And each time I feel pain, for you see I am his mom. / I'm the one who rocked him as a baby. / I'm the one who kissed away the hurts. / I'm the one who taught him right from wrong. / I'm the one who held him for the last time and watched him fly away to war. / I'm the one who prayed each night, "Dear God keep him safe". / I'm the goofy mom who sent him a Christmas tree in [...]" / [Obverse object surface, page 2, handwritten inscriptions] "[...] Vietnam. / I'm the one whose heart broke when told my Billy had died in a helicopter crash. / And now I'm the one who still cries at night because of all the memories I have, that will never die. / So Vietnam, Vietnam what did you take from me? / You took my son, Bill, and the hopes and dreams I had for him. / You broke my heart! / You took something that most people do not even know they have until they lose it and that is a feeling of security. / These things and more you took, when you took my son. / Vietnam was a tragedy. / But how many people know the tragedy still goes on from that war? / For there are 2,482 American men still being held in Vietnam. / What are we doing to get these men back home where they belong? / What is being done to end the suffering for these men and their families that has gone on much to [sic] long? / Think about the word Freedom. / If we live in the land of the free and the brave, then why are our brave men who went to Vietnam to fight for that freedom, why are they NOT FREE? / They are called P.O.W. and M.I.A.s but they are more than that. / They are Americans. / They are husbands, sons, fathers, brothers and much, much more. / Please help to get these men back home and end the suffering for them, their families and all their loved ones. / Written by a mother who lost her son in Vietnam but still cares about those who are still unaccounted for. / Eleanor Wimbish" / [Reverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "William R. Stocks / (SPANKY) / Mother / Eleanor Wimbish"
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 125.0g
    • Item Length: 28.8cm
    • Item Width: 45.0cm
    • Item Height: N/A
    • Item Depth: 0.75cm (Thickness)
  • Item Notes:THE OBJECT IS VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL IN CONTENT TO AN ASSOCIATED HANDWRITTEN LETTER (VIVE (815)).
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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.