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letter, handwritten

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 35933
  • Accession Date:6/24/1991
  • Item Summary:Handwritten letter. The letter is addressed, "Dear Bobby", is signed, "Love, / Donna", is dated, "June 20, 1991", and opens with the line, "August 3rd will mark twenty years since you were taken away." In content, the author addresses Bobby twenty (20) years after his death in Vietnam on August 3, 1971 in order to, "[...] pay my respects" and to answer questions about their interrupted love affair. The author acknowledges that, "Parents interfered, as is the case with young lovers", and notes that, "You must have wondered why I had not returned your letters. / I was not even aware you had written until several months later. / My mother had interfered one final time." Donna closes her letter to Bobby with the lines, "Even though all this time has passed and I'm married with a family of my own, you will always have a special place in my heart. / After all you were my "first love"." The artifact was left at The Wall by a donor identified only as, "Donna" on June 20, 1991.

assemblage

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 36166
  • Accession Date:9/28/1990
  • Item Summary:Artifact assemblage consisting of a three (3) page handwritten letter upon monogrammed personal stationery and a monogrammed letter envelope. The letter is addressed, "Dear Airman of the 377th Air Police", is signed, "Always / J. M. Kelten / USAF / RVN/USA", is dated, "1 APR 90", and opens with the lines, "The first time I saw you was at sunrise 31 Jan. 68, TET, in the RVN at TSN Airbase. / We had fought a pitch [sic] battle with VC and NVA regulars." In content, the author of the letter describes personally euthanizing a badly wounded American serviceman who could not be reached with medical assistance and whose screams had begun to demoralize his fellow comrades; "You had not moved, and were still screaming. / I shot you in the head (3) times. / You jerked and were silent." The author closes his letter by asking forgiveness of the deceased airman and stating that, "This happened over 22 years ago. / I still don't know your name. / I had nitemares [sic] for 22 years about you." The artifact assemblage was left at The Wall by U.S. Air Force and Vietnam veteran J. M. Kelten on April 1, 1990.

assemblage


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Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.

Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.
  • Catalog Number:VIVE 36116
  • Accession Date:6/24/1991
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: CLIFFORD W SILVIA
  • Item Summary:Artifact assemblage dedicated to U.S. Army Staff Sergeant (SSG) Clifford William Silvia and consisting of a handwritten letter (with affixed black & white photographic print) and a faux flower bouquet. The letter is addressed, "My Precious Son", is signed, "As I used to end my letters to you in Nam / I love you - I miss you & say your prayers / Love Mom", is dated, "June 22, 1991", and in content recalls how SSG Silvia used to pick bouquets of wild daffodil for his mother as a child. An excerpt from the letter reads, "I hope that you and Dad are together looking down on Sis Cathy and her family and me [...] I have had to become a lot stronger with both of you gone - In another month you will have been gone 24yrs, the pain and heartache are as painful today as they were than [sic]." The artifact assemblage was left at The Wall by the mother of SSG Silvia on June 22, 1991.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00086
  • Record Component Qty:5
  • Item Description:ASSEMBLAGE DEDICATED TO U.S. ARMY STAFF SERGEANT (SSG) CLIFFORD WILLIAM SILVIA AND CONSISTING OF: COMPONENT (A) HANDWRITTEN LETTER AND COMPONENT (B) FAUX FLOWER BOUQUET. COMPONENT (A) HANDWRITTEN LETTER. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A LETTER HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED, THREE (3) HOLE-PUNCHED, THREE (3) RING BINDER PHOTO ALBUM SHEET COMPRISED OF WHITE, UNLINED CARDSTOCK LAMINATED WITHIN A CLEAR, POLY-PLASTIC MATERIAL. THE LETTER IS ADDRESSED, "MY PRECIOUS SON", IS SIGNED, "AS I USED TO END MY LETTERS TO YOU IN NAM / I LOVE YOU - I MISS YOU & SAY YOUR PRAYERS / LOVE MOM", IS DATED, "JUNE 22, 1991", AND OPENS WITH THE LINE, "THANKS AGAIN TO VVA #48, I AM ABLE TO BE HERE FOR THE 3RD YEAR IN A ROW." IN CONTENT, THE AUTHOR OF THE LETTER BEGINS BY ACKNOWLEDGING THAT HER SON IS NOT PHYSICALLY, "HERE AT "THE WALL" " AND THAT HIS NAME IS ONLY ETCHED ON THE MEMORIAL, BUT STATES NONETHELESS THAT, "[...] I FEEL DRAWN BY A FORCE, A STRONG FORCE FROM THE LORD ABOVE [...]" THE AUTHOR GOES ON TO RECALL HOW SSG SILVIA WOULD FETCH WILD BOUQUETS OF HER FAVORITE FLOWER (DAFFODIL) FOR HER AS A YOUNG BOY IN THE SPRINGTIME, PICTURES IN HER MIND'S EYE, "[...] A LITTLE BOY WITH A TOY RIFLE AND AN AMERICAN FLAG WHO LOVED TO PLAY SOLDIER", AND SORROWFULLY EXPRESSES REGRET FOR THOSE DAYS GONE BY. SHE THEN STATES THAT, "[...] I HAVE ALL THESE FOND MEMORIES, OF HOW YOU GREW TO BE SUCH A FINE YOUNG MAN", NOTES THAT SSG SILVIA FOUND HIMSELF IN THE MILITARY, AND EXPRESSES HER GROWING PRIDE IN HIS FIRM BELIEFS AND SENSE OF DUTY AS THE YEARS HAVE PASSED. THE AUTHOR THEN PROCEEDS TO HOPE THAT SSG SILVIA AND HIS DECEASED FATHER ARE, "[...] LOOKING DOWN ON SIS CATHY AND HER FAMILY AND ME", INFORMS SSG SILVIA THAT HIS SERVICE IN VIETNAM RECALLED FOR HIS FATHER MANY MEMORIES OF HIS PRIOR MILITARY SERVICE, AND ADMITS THAT, "I HAVE HAD TO BECOME A LOT STRONGER WITH BOTH OF YOU GONE". THE AUTHOR THEN CLOSES BY RECALLING THAT, "IN ANOTHER MONTH YOU WILL HAVE BEEN GONE 24 YRS, THE PAIN AND HEARTACHE ARE AS PAINFUL TODAY AS THEY WERE THAN [sic]", AND CONCLUDES HER LETTER TO HER SON WITH THE LINES, "[...] I ALSO HAVE A LOVING, CARING FAMILY IN VVA #48 - THEY ARE THE GREATEST, I WOULD BE LOST WITHOUT THEM - I LOVE THEM ALL". AFFIXED TO THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNER OF THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE LETTER, VIA A SINGLE METAL STAPLE, IS A BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT (PORTRAIT ORIENTATION) UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE PHOTO PAPER. THE IMAGE AT THE OBVERSE SURFACE OF THE PRINT IS A FORMAL MILITARY PORTRAIT WHICH DEPICTS SSG SILVIA WEARING A MILITARY ISSUE, OG-107 TROPICAL COMBAT COAT (CAMOUFLAGE PATTERN) WHILE FACING THE CAMERA IN FRONT OF A NONDESCRIPT STUDIO BACKDROP. THE PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT IS DELINEATED FROM THE SURFACE OF THE LETTER VIA A DOUBLE LINE HAND-DRAWN AROUND THE EXTERIOR EDGES OF THE PRINT IN RED INK. THE PHRASE, "REST IN PEACE" IS HANDWRITTEN IN VERTICALLY-ORIENTED, RED, BLOCK SCRIPT ALONG THE PROPER LEFT-HAND SIDE OF THE PRINT, WHILE THE CORRESPONDING SERVICE INFORMATION, "S/SGT CLIFFORD W. SILVIA / 25TH INF - 25TH MED BN. / CU CHI, VIETNAM / JULY 17, 1967" IS HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS IN FOUR (4) SEPARATE LINES BELOW THE PHOTOGRAPH. COMPONENT (B) IS PRESENTLY AFFIXED TO THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNER OF THE HANDWRITTEN LETTER VIA A LENGTH OF STRIPED, NYLON FABRIC RIBBON STRUNG THROUGH THE UPPERMOST OF THE THREE (3) PUNCHED HOLES AND KNOTTED AT THE ENDS. COMPONENT (B) FAUX FLOWER BOUQUET. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A FAUX FLOWER BOUQUET INTENDED TO REPLICATE THE APPEARANCE OF A BUNDLE OF THIRTEEN (13) YELLOW DAFFODIL AND RED ROSES, AND IS COMPRISED OF YELLOW & RED NYLON FLOWER PETALS, GREEN NYLON LEAVES, AND GREEN POLY-PLASTIC STEMS. THE BUNDLE IS SECURED TOGETHER VIA A LENGTH OF HORIZONTALLY-STRIPED, RED/WHITE/BLUE NYLON FABRIC RIBBON TIED INTO A BOW AT THE LOWER EDGE OF THE FLOWER STEMS. A RED, WHITE, & BLUE VINYL WINDOW CLING IN THE FORM OF A UNITED STATES NATIONAL FLAG, ALSO REFERRED TO AS AN "AMERICAN FLAG", IS PRESENTLY TUCKED WITHIN THE STEMS OF THE FAUX BOUQUET AT THE LOWER OBJECT EDGE. THE FAUX FLOWER BOUQUET IS PRESENTLY AFFIXED TO THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNER OF THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF COMPONENT (A) VIA A LENGTH OF STRIPED, NYLON FABRIC RIBBON STRUNG THROUGH THE UPPERMOST OF THE THREE (3) PUNCHED HOLES AND KNOTTED AT THE ENDS. ACCORDING TO VIVE CATALOG NOTES PREPARED BY MRCE COLLECTIONS STAFF, THE NPS RANGER'S LOG ENTRY ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ARTIFACT IS RECORDED AS FOLLOWS: "# 6/403".
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the handwritten inscriptions upon the obverse object surface of COMPONENT (A) is transcribed in full, as follows: [COMPONENT (A), obverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "June 22, 1991 / My Precious Son, / Thanks again to VVA #48, I am able to be here for the 3rd year in a row. / I know you are not here at "The Wall." / That only your name is etched here but I feel drawn by a force, a strong force from the Lord above, if I look deep enough I can see your face, and as I stare at what I see, I see a little boy who every spring would bring me my favorite flower, the daffodil. / In the small town we lived in, you in your wanderings found a field of wild daffodils known only to you and how you loved to surprise me - I also see a little boy with a toy rifle and an American Flag who loved to play soldier. / Oh, how I wish those days were back, but than [sic] I have all these fond memories, of how you grew to be such a fine young man. / You weren't perfect you had your teen problems but you found yourself in the military. / We were so proud of you and your strong beliefs in what you be-lieved [sic] in and I get prouder as the years go by - I hope that you and Dad are together looking down on Sis Cathy and her family and me - and talking away about both of your war stories - Your being in the war brought back a lot of memories to him. / I have had to become a lot stronger with both of you gone - In another month you will have been gone 24yrs, the pain and heartache are as painful today as they were than [sic]. / Dad left to be with you a few years later - to watch over us - I have Cathy, Mark & Megan, but I also have a loving, caring family in VVA #48 - They are the greatest. / I would be lost without them - I love them all - I also have a new daughter & son - They know who they are - As I used to end my letters to you in Nam / I love you - I miss you & say your prayers / Love Mom / REST IN PEACE / S/sgt Clifford W. Silvia / 25th Inf - 25th Med Bn. / Cu Chi, Vietnam / July 17, 1967"
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 150.0g (Collective weight of COMPONENTS (A & B))
    • Item Length: 28.2cm
    • Item Width: 24.0cm
    • Item Height: N/A
    • Item Depth: N/A
  • Item Notes:ACCORDING TO VIVE CATALOG NOTES PREPARED BY MRCE COLLECTIONS STAFF, THE NPS RANGER'S LOG ENTRY ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ARTIFACT IS RECORDED AS FOLLOWS: "# 6/403".

    Dimensions listed above are for COMPONENT (A) only, with the exception of "Weight" which is a collective measurement of COMPONENTS (A & B). Measurements for COMPONENT (B) are as follows:

    [COMPONENT (B)]:
    33.0cm (L) X 23.0cm (W) X 150.0g (Collective weight of COMPONENTS (A & B))
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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.