Items Left at The Wall

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letter, handwritten

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 34735
  • Accession Date:3/21/1991
  • Item Summary:Handwritten letter. The letter is addressed, "My dear comrades in arms", is signed, "Richard F. Stewart, USN / Sept 67 - Aug 68 / Sept 72 - Jan 73", is dated, "20 Jan 91", and opens with the line, "I am so sorry you can not be here." In content, the author of the letter assures his dead friends that they remain in his heart and in his thoughts, notes that he has, "[...] finally faced the wall", and states that, "I hope the cause was worth the sacrifice." The artifact was left at The Wall by U.S. Navy and Vietnam veteran Richard F. Stewart on January 20, 1991.

letter, handwritten

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 34746
  • Accession Date:3/21/1991
  • Item Summary:Handwritten letter. The letter is addressed, "Dear Lt.", is signed, "Rest Well My Friend", and opens with the lines, "You died more than 20 years ago. / It has taken me that long to mourn your death." In content, the author of the letter expresses his deep regret and shame at his failure to inquire into the suspicious circumstances of the unnamed officer's death, specifically, "[how the Lieutenant was] shot by .50 caliber machine gun - why you were left in the jungle - why we didn't find many traces of VC.,- why the gooks wouldn't explain what happened - why nobody seemed to care". The author notes that, "While I didn't care 20 years ago, I do care now. / For 20 years, I couldn't face your memory", and closes his letter with the lines, "I would tell them [your family] about a wrongful war and the senselessness of your dieing [sic]. / I would tell them that you are remembered and not forgotten." The artifact was left at The Wall by an anonymous donor between January - March 1991.

assemblage


  • Catalog Number:VIVE 34743
  • Accession Date:3/21/1991
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: N/A
  • Item Summary:Artifact assemblage consisting of a handwritten letter and accompanying envelope. The letter is addressed, "Dear Jim", is signed, "I'll miss you. / Bob", and opens with the line, "I am writing this letter to you at the Wall because I have no place else to mourn your death." In content, the letter is written from a Vietnam veteran to a fellow comrade and friend who survived the war but eventually committed suicide when he could no longer cope with his traumatic experience. An excerpt from the letter reads, "I wish you could have gotten it together this past year, to avoid a death that was much more insidious." The artifact assemblage was left at The Wall by a Vietnam veteran identified only as, "Bob" between January - March 1991.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00081
  • Record Component Qty:3
  • Item Description:ASSEMBLAGE CONSISTING OF: COMPONENT (A) HANDWRITTEN LETTER AND COMPONENT (B) HANDWRITTEN ENVELOPE. COMPONENT (A) HANDWRITTEN LETTER. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A TWO (2) PAGE LETTER HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON TWO (2) RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEETS OF WHITE, UNLINED PAPER. THE LETTER IS ADDRESSED, "DEAR JIM", IS SIGNED, "I'LL MISS YOU. / BOB", IS UNDATED, AND OPENS WITH THE LINE, "I AM WRITING THIS LETTER TO YOU AT THE WALL BECAUSE I HAVE NO PLACE ELSE TO MOURN YOUR DEATH." IN CONTENT, THE LETTER IS WRITTEN FROM A VIETNAM VETERAN TO A FELLOW COMRADE AND FRIEND WHO SURVIVED THE WAR BUT EVENTUALLY COMMITTED SUICIDE WHEN HE COULD NO LONGER COPE WITH HIS TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE. THE AUTHOR BEGINS BY NOTING THAT HE IS LEAVING THE LETTER, "[...] BY THE NAMES OF CHEYENNE - MCADAMS, BACH [?], CAMPANELLA, WEIDEMIER, & EDGAR", RECALLS THAT JIM FREQUENTLY TOLD THE AUTHOR THAT HE FELT HE DIED THE DAY THESE MEN PASSED, AND SURMISES THAT, "[...] I GUESS THE IMAGE OF THEIR DEATHS WAS AGAIN WITH YOU WHEN YOU KILLED YOURSELF." THE AUTHOR THEN PROCEEDS TO TELL JIM THAT HE WISHES HIS FRIEND COULD HAVE, "[...] BEEN ABLE TO DEAL W [sic] THAT HORROR AND GRIEF IN THERAPY AND COME TO ENJOY LIFE AGAIN", AND ASSURES HIS FRIEND THAT HE WAS A GOOD MAN WHOM THE AUTHOR MUCH ADMIRED. BOB GOES ON TO COMPLIMENT JIM FOR, "[DOING] A DAMN GOOD JOB OVER THERE DOING IT RIGHT AND KEEPING PEOPLE ALIVE", AGAIN REVEALS HIS ADMIRATION FOR HIS FRIEND, AND EXPRESSES THE FORLORN WISH THAT, "[...] YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN IT TOGETHER THIS PAST YEAR, TO AVOID A DEATH THAT WAS MUCH MORE INSIDIOUS." BOB CLOSES HIS LETTER TO JIM WITH THE LINES, "I AM LEAVING THIS BY THE NAMES OF THE GUYS FROM CHEYENNE. / I HOPE YOU FEEL IT SOMEHOW BRINGS YOU CLOSER TO THEM, THAT YOU ARE NOW WITH THEM. / IT'S THE BEST I CAN DO FOR YOU NOW, BUDDY." COMPONENT (A) WAS ORIGINALLY DISCOVERED FOLDED AND HOUSED INSIDE COMPONENT (B). COMPONENT (B) HANDWRITTEN ENVELOPE. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED LETTER ENVELOPE COMPRISED OF PLAIN WHITE PAPER WITH A TRIANGULARLY SHAPED, ADHESIVE CLOSURE FLAP AT THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE. AT THE CENTER OF THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE IS AN INSCRIPTION HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT READING, "JIM". COMPONENT (A) WAS ORIGINALLY DISCOVERED FOLDED AND HOUSED INSIDE COMPONENT (B). ACCORDING TO THE TRANSCRIBED TEXT OF COMPONENT (A), THE LETTER & ENVELOPE MAY HAVE ORIGINALLY BEEN LEFT AT THE WALL ALONG WITH A FLOWER BOUQUET WHICH WAS DISPOSED OF PRIOR TO FORMAL ACCESSIONING INTO THE VIVE COLLECTION.
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the handwritten inscriptions upon COMPONENTS (A & B) is transcribed in full, as follows: [COMPONENT (A), page 1, obverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "Dear Jim: / I am writing this letter to you at the Wall because I have no place else to mourn your death. / Although your name is not there, it might as well be. / I am placing this letter and the flowers by the names of Cheyenne- McAdams, Bach [?], Campanella, Weidemier, & Edgar. / You often told me you felt like you had died that day, or part of you. / That was the last straw, and I guess the image of their deaths was again with you when you killed yourself. / I wish you hadn't done that. / I wish you had been able to deal w [sic] that horror and grief in therapy and come to enjoy life again. / Even though you had so, so much loss of JJ, Hams, & other friends too. / I still wish you could have stuck it out longer." / [COMPONENT (A), page 2, obverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "You were a good man. / I admired you being hard-working, your kidding was great when you were feeling good. / You had a lot of caring in you - a lot of love for your friends. / And you did a damn good job over there doing it right and keeping people alive. / I admired that you had your shit together. / I wish you could have gotten it together this past year, to avoid a death that was much more insidious. / I am leaving this by the names of the guys from Cheyenne. / I / hope you feel it somehow brings you closer to them, that you are now with them. / It's the best I can do for you now, buddy. / I'll miss you. / Bob" / [COMPONENT (B), obverse object surface, handwritten inscription] "Jim"
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 4.1g (Weight of COMPONENT (A) only)
    • Item Length: 22.4cm
    • Item Width: 15.2cm
    • Item Height: N/A
    • Item Depth: N/A
  • Item Notes:ACCORDING TO THE TRANSCRIBED TEXT OF COMPONENT (A), THE LETTER & ENVELOPE MAY HAVE ORIGINALLY BEEN LEFT AT THE WALL ALONG WITH A FLOWER BOUQUET WHICH WAS DISPOSED OF PRIOR TO FORMAL ACCESSIONING INTO THE VIVE COLLECTION.

    Dimensions listed above are for COMPONENT (A) only. Measurements for COMPONENT (B) are as follows:

    [COMPONENT (B)]:
    9.4cm (L) X 16.5cm (W) X 2.7g (Weight)
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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.