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letter, handwritten

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 36545
  • Accession Date:11/14/1990
  • Item Summary:Handwritten letter. The letter is addressed to, "W.D.", is signed, "Sarge", is dated, " Nov 13 - 90", and opens with the line, "Next month will be 24 years since Ive [sic] seen your smillin' [sic] face (cept [sic] in my dreams)". In content, the author of the letter recalls his insecurities while serving in Vietnam and the role played by W.D. in putting him at ease by noting that, " I remember feeling so insecure until that day. / Me being white & all you guys black. / Me being younger, and in country only a short time / I remember being so afraid. / In coming 2 me that day you changed all that and I want 2 thank you." The author proceeds to recount the circumstances surrounding his comrade's accidental death by drowning in the lines, "4 2 day's [sic] we dove for you and Stokes. / 4 2 long days we all took turn's [sic] even tho [sic] there was a sniper across the river. / We never did find Stokes / I remember how muddy that river was". Sarge then closes his letter by stating that, "I don't know why you died my friend or Stokes or all the other guy's [sic]. / But it still bothers me. / I do know the heros [sic] that came home from that war are all carved on this wall." The artifact was left at The Wall along with a military issue, cloth patch U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team shoulder sleeve insignia, full color (VIVE (4801)) by a U.S. Army and Vietnam veteran identified only as,"Sarge" on November 13, 1990.

rubbing, VVM name

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 01366
  • Accession Date:7/18/1985
  • Item Summary:Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM) name rubbing for U.S. Marine Corps Second Lieutenant (2ndLt) Donald William Pratt. A note handwritten below the name rubbing reads, "I'm sorry, Don! / And I can't change anything for you - or for me. / Karl". The artifact was left at Panel 51 or 52E [?] of The Wall by a donor identified only as, "Karl" between June - July 1985.

letter, printed


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Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.

Photo Credit: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.
  • Catalog Number:VIVE 36660
  • Accession Date:9/28/1990
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: N/A
  • Item Summary:Printed letter. The letter is addressed, "Dear [blank]", is signed, "Yours In Christ / David", and opens with the line, "I have carried you around in my heart and my thoughts for so long now more than twenty years." In content, the letter is from a Vietnam veteran to a comrade whom the author barely knew, but who nonetheless died in a mortar strike upon a bunker in place of the author. An excerpt from the letter reads, "I do wish that I had known you so that I could have seen your mother or father, your wife and any children just to tell them that you were a good person. / But I didn't really know you except that I held you at a time when your life was ending. / I would have told them that your death was not in vain and that I owe you my life. / I thank you for your supreme gift." The artifact was left at The Wall by a Vietnam veteran and donor identified only as, "David" between July - September 1990.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00075
  • Record Component Qty:1
  • Item Description:PRINTED LETTER. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A LETTER PRINTED IN BLACK INK AND STYLIZED SCRIPT UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE, UNLINED PAPER. THE LETTER IS ADDRESSED, "DEAR [blank]", IS SIGNED, "YOURS IN CHRIST / DAVID", AND OPENS WITH THE LINE, "I HAVE CARRIED YOU AROUND IN MY HEART AND MY THOUGHTS FOR SO LONG NOW MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS." IN CONTENT, THE LETTER IS FROM A VIETNAM VETERAN TO A COMRADE WHOM THE AUTHOR BARELY KNEW, BUT WHO NONETHELESS DIED IN A MORTAR STRIKE UPON A BUNKER IN PLACE OF THE AUTHOR. THE AUTHOR BEGINS HIS LETTER BY REFLECTING THAT FOR MANY YEARS HE HAS CARRIED THE MEMORY OF THE MAN WHO DIED IN HIS PLACE, AND RECALLS THAT, "WHEN THEY CAME AND GOT YOU I JUST SAT STILL FOR A WHILE AND WONDERED WHO YOU WERE AND WHAT MADE YOU DO WHAT YOU DID." THE AUTHOR PROCEEDS TO DESCRIBE MEETING THE SUBJECT OF THE LETTER OUTSIDE THE FATEFUL BUNKER FOR THE FIRST AND ONLY TIME AND PASSING INTO THE BUNKER WHILE HIS COMRADE PAUSED OUTSIDE, AND AGONIZES OVER THE QUESTION, "[...] WHY, WHY WOULD YOU STOP AND THEN BE THE ONE KILLED AND ME BE THE ONE WHO WOULD NOT EVEN GET A SCRATCH." THE AUTHOR SUBSEQUENTLY ADMITS THAT, "THEN TO SIT IN THAT BUNKER AND HOLD YOU AS YOU DIED BOTHERED ME", BUT ACKNOWLEDGES THAT, "[...] NOW I FEEL THAT I DID ALL THAT I COULD HAVE DONE AND AT LEAST YOU DIDN'T DIE ALONE." THE AUTHOR GOES ON TO EXPRESS THE REGRET THAT, "I DO WISH THAT I HAD KNOWN YOU SO THAT I COULD HAVE SEEN YOUR MOTHER OR FATHER, YOUR WIFE AND ANY CHILDREN JUST TO TELL THEM THAT YOU WERE A GOOD PERSON [...] I WOULD HAVE TOLD THEM THAT YOUR DEATH WAS NOT IN VAIN AND THAT I OWE YOU MY LIFE." THE AUTHOR THEN THANKS HIS UNKNOWN COMRADE FOR HIS, "SUPREME GIFT" AND CLOSES HIS LETTER WITH THE LINES, "MAY YOU REST IN PEACE AND WHEN WE MEET SOMEDAY ON THE STREETS OF GLORY WE WILL SPEND TIME GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER. / IN THE MEAN TIME I WILL CONTINUE TO APPRECIATE WHAT YOU DID FOR ME AND YOU CAN DO THE SAME FOR WHAT I DID FOR YOU."
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the printed inscriptions upon the obverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: "Dear / I have carried you around in my heart and my thoughts for so long now more than twenty years. / I told no one of you and when I spent time with you I felt bad. / We where [sic] to [sic] souls that were thrown together for just a few minutes and yet I feel that from that moment on I have carried you. / For the longest time I was angry with you for dying on me I held you and you weren't really there. / When they came and got you I just sat still for a while and wondered who you were and what made you do what you did. / Why when we met next to that bunker would you stop and let me go into the bunker before you. / When that mortar shell went off you took all of the impact and I got nothing. / For the last twenty years I have been asking the question WHY, Why would you stop and then be the one killed and me be the one who would not even get a scratch. / Then to sit in that bunker and hold you as you died bothered me. / But now I feel that I did all that I could have done and at least you didn't die alone. / I do wish that I had known you so that I could have seen your mother or father, your wife and any children just to tell them that you were a good person. / But I didn't really know you except that I held you at a time when your life was ending. / I would have told them that your death was not in vain and that I owe you my life. / I thank you for your supreme gift. / I promise you that I will never forget you and the lesson that you tought [sic] me was one of the value of life. / For the first time in twenty years I feel that we are becoming friends. / We shared a special time together and now I feel that I to [sic] helped you. / May you rest in peace and when we meet someday on the streets of glory we will spend time getting to know each other. / In the mean time I will continue to appreciate what you did for me and you can do the same for what I did for you. / Yours In Christ / David"
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 4.7g
    • Item Length: 27.8cm
    • Item Width: 21.6cm
    • 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.