Items Left at The Wall

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drawings, artwork

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 16984
  • Accession Date:11/24/1987
  • Item Summary:Three (3) artwork drawings dedicated to U.S. Army Sergeant (SGT) James Patrick Riggins. Two (2) of the drawings depict Vietnam-era American servicemen in the field, while the third (3rd) appears to be a profile portrait of SGT Riggins himself. A dedication handwritten upon the obverse surface of one of the drawings reads, "We Will never Forget You! / Los Fresnos Texas", while another drawing bears the title, "The nightmare". The artifacts were left at The Wall by anonymous donors between October - November 1987.

patch, commemorative

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 34976
  • Accession Date:11/24/1987
  • Item Summary:Commemorative "VIETNAM REMEMBERED" patch. The artifact was left at The Wall by an anonymous donor between October - November 1987.

poem, printed


  • Catalog Number:VIVE 34970
  • Accession Date:11/24/1987
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: N/A
  • Item Summary:Printed poem. The poem is entitled, "MY WALL", is authored by, "Mark Hoplin", is dated, "1985", and reads (in part), "We came home on a jet, / watched our country forget. / Most all feel the pain, / a few even know shame. / I can not shed a tear, / perhaps I am not here. / My name is not there, / and I've looked everywhere. / I reflect in it's [sic] shine, / but this wall is not mine. / I have built my own wall, / and it is much to [sic] tall." The artifact was left at The Wall by U.S. military veteran Mark Hoplin between October - November 1987.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00046
  • Record Component Qty:1
  • Item Description:PRINTED POEM. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A POEM PRINTED IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE, UNLINED PAPER. THIS SHEET HAS SUBSEQUENTLY BEEN LAMINATED WITHIN TRANSLUCENT THERMOPLASTIC, AND A GREEN WIRE/PLASTIC TWIST TIE HAS BEEN INSERTED THROUGH A CIRCULARLY SHAPED HOLE PUNCHED IN THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNER OF THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE. THE POEM IS ENTITLED, "MY WALL", IS AUTHORED BY, "MARK HOPLIN", IS DATED, "1985", AND IS COMPRISED OF FIVE (5) STANZAS AND FORTY (40) TOTAL LINES, ARRANGED 8-8-8-8-8. IN CONTENT, THE FIRST (1ST) STANZA OF THE POEM EVOKES THE DEATH OF AMERICAN SERVICEMEMBERS IN COMBAT IN VIETNAM ONLY TO HAVE THEIR BODIES RETURNED, "[...] HOME IN A SACK, / TO BE CHIPED [sic] INTO BLACK", AND FINDS THE AUTHOR MUSING THAT, "I SHOULD HAVE LOOKED FOR MINE, / BUT DIDN'T HAVE THE TIME." THE POEM'S SECOND (2ND) STANZA SPEAKS OF VISITORS TO THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM), AND CHARACTERIZES THEIR REACTIONS TO THE WALL BY NOTING THAT, "THEY PASS THIS WALL IN HASTE, / AND SAY OH SUCH A WASTE. / IT'S BEEN SO VERY LONG, / AND IT WAS ALL SO WRONG." THE THIRD (3RD) STANZA BITTERLY REFERS TO THOSE WHO DID NOT SERVE IN VIETNAM, AND WHO NOW LINGER AT THE WALL, AS INDIVIDUALS WHOSE, "[...] ONLY STAKE, / IS ATONEMENT TO MAKE", AND CONDEMNS THEM AS HAVING, "TURNED THEIR BACKS ON IT ALL, / A POOR COUNTRY SO SMALL." THE POEM'S FOURTH (4TH) STANZA TURNS TOWARDS A DESCRIPTION OF VIETNAM VETERANS WITH, "A THOUSAND YARD STARE, / THAT FOREVER THEY'LL WEAR", AND SPEAKS OF THE COLLECTIVE EXPERIENCE OF THESE VETERANS IN THE LINES, "WE CAME HOME ON A JET, / WATCHED OUR COUNTRY FORGET. / MOST ALL FEEL THE PAIN, / A FEW EVEN KNOW SHAME." THE POEM'S FIFTH (5TH) AND FINAL STANZA ADDRESSES THE AUTHOR'S OWN INTERNAL STRUGGLES TO DEAL WITH HIS MILITARY SERVICE IN VIETNAM AS HE ASSERTS OF THE MEMORIAL THAT, "I REFLECT IN IT'S [sic] SHINE, / BUT THIS WALL IS NOT MINE. / I HAVE BUILT MY OWN WALL, / AND IT IS MUCH TO [sic] TALL."
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the photocopied (printed) inscription at the obverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: [Obverse object surface, printed inscription] "MY WALL / Their uniforms turned red, / saw my brothers lay dead. / They came home in a sack, / to be chiped [sic] into black. / Their names put on the wall, / gives honor to them all. / I should have looked for mine, / but didn't have the time. / And ten thousand they say, / will visit here today. / Most will show that they care, / but some can only stare. / They pass this wall in haste, / and say oh such a waste. / It's been so very long, / and it was all so wrong. / But a few linger tho [sic], / the ones that didn't go. / I guess their only stake, / is atonement to make. / With their protest they tried, / plus deferments to hide, / turned their backs on it all, / a poor country so small. / And the vets I do know, / with their eyes they will show, / a thousand yard stare, / that forever they'll wear. / We came home on a jet, / watched our country forget. / Most all feel the pain, / a few even know shame. / I can not shed a tear, / perhaps I am not here. / My name is not there, / and I've looked everywhere. / I reflect in it's [sic] shine, / but this wall is not mine. / I have built my own wall, / and it is much to [sic] tall. / Mark Hoplin 1985"
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 19.7g
    • Item Length: 27.9cm
    • Item Width: 21.5cm
    • 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.