From the collection of the National Park Service, National Mall and Memorial Parks.
print, color photographic
Color photographic print. An 'in-country' image captured in Vietnam, the photograph depicts the sign in front of the 45th Surgical Hospital (M.U.S.T.) near Tay Ninh, South Vietnam. A handwritten inscription upon the reverse surface of the photo appears to be from an anonymous medical officer or nurse who served at the hospital and is generally addressed to those listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM). An excerpt from the inscription reads, "We did what we could but it was not enough because I found you here / All of you are not just names on this wall you are alive [...] Your pain is ours. / Please go. / I'll never forget your faces / I can't. / Your [sic] still alive." The artifact was left at The Wall by an anonymous Vietnam veteran in November 1985.
COLOR PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A COLOR PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT (PORTRAIT ORIENTATION) UPON A SQUARE SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE PHOTO PAPER. THE IMAGE AT THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE PRINT IS AN 'IN-COUNTRY' IMAGE CAPTURED IN VIETNAM WHICH DEPICTS A CIRCULARLY SHAPED, HAND-PAINTED METAL SIGN SUSPENDED BY FOUR (4) GREEN PAINTED METAL LINK CHAINS IN FRONT OF TWO (2) CORRUGATED METAL STRUCTURES UPON WHAT APPEARS TO BE A U.S. MILITARY INSTALLATION. THE SIGN IS DARK GRAY IN COLOR AND BEARS THE LIGHT GRAY GEOGRAPHIC OUTLINE OF THE COUNTRY OF VIETNAM AT THE CENTER. SUPERIMPOSED IN FRONT OF THE GEOGRAPHIC OUTLINE ARE THREE (3) CYLINDRICALLY SHAPED, OD GREEN, MILITARY HOSPITAL STRUCTURES TOPPED WITH RED CROSS MEDICAL FLAGS, EACH TO THE PROPER LEFT-HAND SIDE OF OD GREEN COLORED SUPPORT STRUCTURES AT THE EXTREME PROPER RIGHT-HAND SIDE. THE PHRASE, "45TH SURG. HOSP" IS EXECUTED IN ARCHED, GRAY, BLOCK LETTERING/ARABIC NUMERALS ALONG THE UPPER, CENTER EDGE OF THE SIGN, WHILE THE CORRESPONDING ACRONYM, "M.U.S.T." IS SIMILARLY EXECUTED IN ARCHED, GRAY, BLOCK LETTERING ALONG THE LOWER, CENTER EDGE OF THE SIGN. AT THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT IS AN INSCRIPTION HANDWRITTEN IN BLUE INK AND CURSIVE SCRIPT. THE INSCRIPTION APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY A MEDICAL OFFICER OR NURSE STATIONED AT THE FIELD HOSPITAL, IS GENERALLY ADDRESSED TO THOSE LISTED ON THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM), AND OPENS WITH THE LINES, "WE DID WHAT WE COULD BUT IT WAS NOT ENOUGH BECAUSE I FOUND YOU HERE. / ALL OF YOU ARE NOT JUST NAMES ON THIS WALL YOU ARE ALIVE." IN CONTENT, THE AUTHOR OF THE NOTE AGONIZES THAT, "YOU'RE [sic] BLOODS [sic] ON MY HANDS, YOUR SCREAMS IN MY HEARS, YOUR EYES IN MY SOUL", RECOUNTS LYING TO WOUNDED SERVICE MEMBERS ABOUT THE SURVIVABILITY OF THEIR WOUNDS, AND BEGS FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF THOSE TREATED AT THE HOSPITAL. THE AUTHOR GOES ON TO STATE THAT, "I SEE YOUR FACE IN MY SON", RECALLS THE HOSPITAL'S PATIENTS SPEAKING OF THEIR FAMILIES BACK HOME, AND THEN STATES FLATLY THAT MANY DIED WHILE THE AUTHOR SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE. THE NOTE CLOSES WITH THE LINES, "YOUR PAIN IS OURS. / PLEASE GO. / I'LL NEVER FORGET YOUR FACES / I CAN'T. / YOUR [sic] STILL ALIVE." ACCORDING TO VIVE CATALOG NOTES PREPARED BY MRCE COLLECTIONS STAFF, A NOTE HANDWRITTEN UPON THE ARTIFACT'S PREVIOUS STORAGE ENCLOSURE RECORDED THE COLLECTIONS PHOTOGRAPHY CITATION PERTAINING TO THE ARTIFACT AS FOLLOWS: "X-1875 DISK 3198 #14".
Text of the visible inscriptions within the photographic image at the obverse object surface and of the handwritten inscriptions upon the reverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: [Obverse object surface, visible painted inscriptions] "45TH SURG. HOSP / M.U.S.T." / [Reverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "We did what we could but it was not enough because I found you here / All of you are not just names on this wall you are alive. / You're [sic] bloods [sic] on my hands, your screams in my ears, your eyes in my soul. / I told you you'd be alright [sic] but I lied, please forgive me. / I see your face in my son. / I can't bear the thought. / You told me about your wife, your kids your girl your mother. / Then you died. / I should have done more. / Your pain is ours. / Please go. / I'll never forget your faces / I can't. / Your [sic] still alive,"
Item Weight: 1.8g
Item Length: 8.7cm
Item Width: 8.7cm