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letter, sealed unopened

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 17112
  • Accession Date:4/7/1988
  • Item Summary:Sealed, unopened letter dedicated to U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal (LCpl) Charles Glenn McIntosh. The letter envelope bears a handwritten inscription at the obverse surface specifying LCpl McIntosh's name and military rank, "L/CPL. Charles Glenn McIntosh", his Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM) Wall location information, "19E - 70", his birth/casualty dates, "Nov 12, 1946 - Jul 24, 1966" and his military unit information, "1st Platoon / E - Co / 2nd Batt. 4th. Marines". The artifact was left at Panel 19E of The Wall by an anonymous donor between December 1987 - April 1988.

letter & poem, printed

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 17306
  • Accession Date:6/2/1988
  • Item Summary:Printed letter & poem housed inside plastic document sleeves. The letter is dated, "May 1988", is signed, "Jean Ellen Riva / Wyoming, Mich.", and opens with the lines, "A year and two decades ago I was a naive, carefree girl in my twenties with a string of nearly thirty-five pen pals. / They were all stationed in Vietnam." The letter references the author's struggles over a failed relationship with a former Vietnam serviceman pen pal, which was destroyed by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and closes with the lines, "They were so young and bright and they wanted nothing more than to fulfill their military obligations and come home to resume their lives. / I hope they did. / I'll always mourn those who didn't." The accompanying poem is entitled, "First Love" and speaks of the failed relationship in bittersweet terms, concluding that, "We were / Both Victims / of the same Damned Bloody War." The artifact was left at The Wall by Jean Ellen Riva in May 1988.

letter, handwritten


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Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.

Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.
  • Catalog Number:VIVE 17301
  • Accession Date:6/2/1988
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: N/A
  • Item Summary:Handwritten letter. The letter is addressed, "Hi Jim", is signed, "Love / Paul", is undated, and opens with the line, "I am sorry I haven't written sooner but its [sic] been tough." In content, the letter is a message from a younger brother to an older brother killed in Vietnam just prior to completion of his tour of duty. The author writes about learning of his brother's death that, "I'll never forget coming home from school and finding a priest and service man there to break the news to me", and notes that, "A couple days later I got your letter telling me you were finishing up your tour in Nam and going to Germany, but I guess Nam wouldn't let you go. / You were so close." Paul assures his brother that his homecoming wishes were honored, stating that, "[...] I put the case of beer in the fridge like you wanted and kept your promotion a secret", and closes his letter with the promise and postscript, "Well I have to go know [sic] but I will always come back and visit [...] (P.S. I drank the case of beer)". The artifact was left at The Wall by a donor identified only as, "Paul" on June 1, 1988.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00050
  • Record Component Qty:1
  • Item Description:HANDWRITTEN LETTER. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A LETTER HANDWRITTEN IN BLUE INK AND CURSIVE SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE, UNLINED PAPER. THE LETTER IS ADDRESSED, "HI JIM", IS SIGNED, "LOVE / PAUL", IS UNDATED, AND OPENS WITH THE LINE, "I'M SORRY I HAVEN'T WRITTEN SOONER BUT ITS [sic] BEEN TOUGH." IN CONTENT, THE LETTER IS A MESSAGE FROM A YOUNGER BROTHER TO AN OLDER BROTHER KILLED IN VIETNAM JUST PRIOR TO COMPLETION OF HIS TOUR OF DUTY. THE AUTHOR WRITES ABOUT LEARNING OF HIS BROTHER'S DEATH THAT, "I'LL NEVER FORGET COMING HOME FROM SCHOOL AND FINDING A PRIEST AND SERVICE MAN THERE TO BREAK THE NEWS TO ME" AND RECALLS AN EMOTIONAL STATE OF STUNNED DISBELIEF. HE NOTES THAT, "A COUPLE DAYS LATER I GOT YOUR LETTER TELLING ME YOU WERE FINISHING UP YOUR TOUR IN NAM AND GOING TO GERMANY, BUT I GUESS NAM WOULDN'T LET YOU GO." PAUL THEN ASSURES JIM THAT HE HONORED HIS BROTHER'S HOMECOMING WISHES, STATING THAT, "[...] I PUT THE CASE OF BEER IN THE FRIDGE LIKE YOU WANTED AND KEPT YOUR PROMOTION A SECRET". THE AUTHOR THEN PROCEEDS TO REMIND HIS BROTHER THAT HE IS MISSED, TO REASSURE HIM THAT HE KNEW HIS BROTHER WAS ONLY GIVING HIM ADVICE IN HIS LETTERS HOME, AND INFORMS HIM THAT HE HAS BEEN GETTING HIS LIFE TOGETHER AND HAS PLANS TO MARRY A "NICE GIRL" AND, "[...] NAME MY FIRST BOY AFTER YOU". THE AUTHOR CONCLUDES HIS LETTER TO HIS BROTHER WITH THE POSTSCRIPT, "(P.S. I DRANK THE CASE OF BEER)". AT THE LOWER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNER OF THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE IS AN NPS RANGER'S NOTE [?] HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS SPECIFYING THE DATE OF DONATION AT THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM), "6/1/88" AS WELL AS THE ALPHANUMERIC DESIGNATION, "6/71".
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the handwritten inscription upon the obverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: "Hi Jim / I am sorry I haven't written sooner but its [sic] been tough. / I'll never forget coming home from school and finding a priest and service man there to break the news to me. / I was totally stunned. / A couple days later I got your letter telling me you were finishing up your tour in Nam and going to Germany, but I guess Nam wouldn't let you go. / You were so close. / I didn't believe it at first so I put the case of beer in the fridge like you wanted and kept your promotion a secret. / I am real proud of you man and I wasn't telling anyone like you said, but I had to face reality so I told everybody my brother was a spec 4. / Jim I miss you, and I know you weren't giving me lectures in your letters. / Big brothers always give advice. / But little brothers don't always take it just sometimes. / I am finally getting myself together and hope you would be proud. / I met a nice girl and plan to marry her and name my first boy after you. / Well I have to go know [sic] but I will always come back and visit. / Love / Paul / (P.S. I drank the case of beer)"
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 3.7g
    • Item Length: 21.5cm
    • Item Width: 18.4cm
    • 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.