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letter, handwritten

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 00655
  • Accession Date:4/18/1985
  • 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.

insignia, U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division shoulder sleeve

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 00659
  • Accession Date:2/12/1985
  • Item Summary:Military issue, cloth patch U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division shoulder sleeve insignia, subdued. The insignia consists of an od green square bearing an embroidered design comprised of a black disk surmounted by the acronym, "AA". The double, "A" of the insignia refers to the nickname, "All American Division" adopted by the organization in France while serving during World War I. The shoulder sleeve insignia was authorized for use by the 82nd Division by the Adjutant General, American Expeditionary Force on 21 October 1918, and was confirmed by the Adjutant General on 8 July 1922. The insignia was re-designated for the 82nd Airborne Division and an Airborne Tab authorized on 31 August 1942. The artifact was left at The Wall by an anonymous donor between November 1984 - February 1985. (Source: The Institute of Heraldry- http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil)

letter & poem, handwritten


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Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.

Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.

Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.

Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.
  • Catalog Number:VIVE 00657
  • Accession Date:2/12/1985
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: WILLIAM R STOCKS
  • 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.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00005
  • Related Items: VIVE 00644 - letter, handwritten
    VIVE 00655 - letter, handwritten
    VIVE 00705 - letter, handwritten
    VIVE 00815 - letter, handwritten
  • Record Component Qty:1
  • Item Description:HANDWRITTEN NOTE & POEM DEDICATED TO U.S. ARMY SERGEANT (SGT) WILLIAM REED STOCKS. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A NOTE & POEM 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) TOP-AND-BOTTOM TO AN UNDERLYING, RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SEGMENT OF BROWN CARDBOARD WRAPPED WITH WHITE GIFT TISSUE PAPER. THE OBJECT BEARS A SINGLE AFFIXED, HEART SHAPED, RED PAPER DECAL AT THE EXTERIOR, UPPER, PROPER LEFT-HAND CORNER OF THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE, AND THE ENTIRE OBJECT (NOTE/POEM SHEETS & CARDBOARD SUBSTRATE) IS PRESENTLY ENCASED WITHIN CLEAR POLY-PLASTIC SHEETING SECURED AT THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE VIA NUMEROUS STRIPS OF CLEAR, ADHESIVE SCOTCH TAPE AND WHITE, ADHESIVE MASKING TAPE. HANDWRITTEN UPON THE PROPER RIGHT-HAND HALF (1/2) OF THE UPPER SHEET THE NOTE IS FROM SGT STOCKS' MOTHER ELEANOR WIMBISH, IS HEADED, "WILLIAM R. STOCKS", IS ADDRESSED, "DEAR BILL", IS SIGNED, "MOM", BEARS THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM) WALL LOCATION INFORMATION, "WILLIAM (SPANKY) STOCKS / 32 WEST - LINE 29" HANDWRITTEN UPON THE UPPER, PROPER LEFT-HAND CORNER OF THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE CARDBOARD SUBSTRATE, AND OPENS WITH THE LINE, "ONE DAY WHEN I WAS MISSING YOU SO MUCH, MY THOUGHTS WENT BACK IN TIME AS THEY HAVE SO OFTEN SINCE YOU LEFT US." IN CONTENT, MS. WIMBISH INFORMS HER SON THAT AS THOUGHTS OF HIM GAVE WAY TO, "[...] THIS DEEP HURT AND THIS LONGING TO ONCE AGAIN SEE YOU" SHE BEGAN TO WRITE A POEM TO EXPRESS HER EMOTIONAL STATE. THE AUTHOR CHARACTERIZES HER SUBSEQUENT WRITINGS IN THE LINE, "BELOW IS A POEM THAT WILL SHOW HOW MUCH I MISS YOU, HOW MUCH I HURT AND HOW MUCH I STILL LOVE YOU." TWO (2) BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTS ARE PHOTOCOPIED UPON THE PROPER LEFT-HAND HALF (1/2) OF THE UPPER SHEET. THE IMAGE UPON THE OBVERSE SURFACE OF THE UPPER PHOTOGRAPH (LANDSCAPE ORIENTATION) IS AN 'IN-COUNTRY' IMAGE CAPTURED IN VIETNAM WHICH DEPICTS SGT STOCKS DRESSED IN MILITARY ISSUE FIELD ATTIRE (E.G. OG-107 TROPICAL COMBAT COAT, OD GREEN UNDERSHIRT, ETC.) WHILE FACING THE CAMERA IN FRONT OF A LANDSCAPE CHARACTERIZED BY LOW VEGETATION AT THE DISTANT BACKGROUND. THE PHRASE, "21 YEARS" IS HANDWRITTEN IN BLUE INK AND CURSIVE SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON THE LOWER, PROPER LEFT-HAND CORNER OF THIS UPPER PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT. THE IMAGE UPON THE OBVERSE SURFACE OF THE LOWER PHOTOGRAPH (PORTRAIT ORIENTATION) IS A FORMAL STUDIO PORTRAIT DEPICTING SGT STOCKS AS A GRADE-SCHOOL AGED CHILD DRESSED IN A COLLARED, SHORT-SLEEVED SHIRT AND DARK SLACKS, WITH HANDS FOLDED UPON HIS LAP AND TURNED TO FACE THE CAMERA WHILE SMILING, IN FRONT OF A NONDESCRIPT STUDIO BACKDROP. THE PHRASE, "9 YEARS" IS HANDWRITTEN IN BLUE INK AND CURSIVE SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON THE LOWER, PROPER LEFT-HAND CORNER OF THIS LOWER PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT. HANDWRITTEN UPON THE LOWER SHEET THE POEM IS UNTITLED, UNDATED, AND IS COMPRISED OF A SINGLE (1) STANZA AND TWENTY-EIGHT (28) TOTAL LINES. IN CONTENT, MS. WIMBISH BEGINS HER 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 OBJECT IS ASSOCIATED WITH VIVE (644, 655, 705, & 815).
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the handwritten inscriptions upon the upper and lower sheets at the obverse object surface, as well as upon the cardboard substrate at the reverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: [Obverse object surface, upper sheet (note), handwritten inscriptions] "William R. Stocks / Dear Bill, / One day when I was missing you so much, my thoughts went back in time as they have so often since you left us. / Then I found myself writing to you, as I have so many times, these past years. / And as I wrote and thought about you, I had this deep hurt and this longing to once again see you. / And then I wondered if I could have you back for just one day, which day would I choose. / And as the love and pain surged through me, I found words forming in my mind and my hand moved as the words flowed onto paper. / Below is a poem that will show how much I miss you, how much I hurt and how much I still love you. / Mom / 21 years / 9 years" / [Obverse object surface, lower sheet (poem), handwritten inscriptions] "If I could just have the return of one day, I wonder which day I would / pick? / Would it be the one where they said, "It's a boy, or the day that you / took your first step? / Or the day that you first played a little league game, or the day / you alone rode your bike? / Or the day that you laughed as you happily said, Got my license, Mom, / now I can drive! / I know I'd pick not the day that you went in the army for the / tears flowed all day - / Not knowing the dangers and what life might bring, as a mother / I cried and I prayed. / I prayed you'd not go to that far away land, where so many were / dying each day. / But call you they did and one night on a plane, my heart broke / as it flew you away. / And last would I not pick the day that I heard, that you died / fighting over the seas. / The telegram came and cold were the words, saying my Billy was / taken from me. / Now I'll not hear you open the door and call out, "Mom, I'm home so / what time do we eat"? / But I know that God blessed me when He loaned you to me, my Billy / for 21 years. / 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!" / [Reverse object surface, handwritten inscription] "William (Spanky) Stocks / 32 West- Line 29"
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 175.0g
    • Item Length: 44.0cm
    • Item Width: 29.0cm
    • Item Height: N/A
    • Item Depth: 1.0cm (Thickness)
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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.