letter, handwritten
VIEW ALL PHOTOS (2)

From the collection of the National Park Service, National Mall and Memorial Parks.

letter, handwritten

CATALOG NUMBER

VIVE 24811

ACCESSION DATE

11/03/1989

ITEM SUMMARY

Handwritten letter. The letter is addressed, "Hi", is signed, "Love", and opens with the lines, "Well here I am back at The Wall. / My therapist wants me to write down my feelings, so I decided to write to you." In content, the letter represents a general conversation between a surviving veteran of the Vietnam War and those listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM). The author of the letter appeals to his deceased comrades for forgiveness to appease his survivor's guilt, and references the popular Vietnam-era phrase, "It don't mean nothin"; stating the perspective that the war and the sacrifices made by service members in Vietnam, "[...] has to mean something." The author closes by opining that, "Perhaps its meaning is yet to be felt or seen in our world [...] If we keep asking the question "Why?" long enough, an answer may emerge" and concludes his letter with the line, "An answer that will bring peace." The artifact was left at The Wall by an anonymous donor between September - November 1989.

ITEM DESCRIPTION

HANDWRITTEN LETTER. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A LETTER HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF YELLOW, LINED NOTEBOOK PAPER. THE LETTER IS ADDRESSED, "HI", IS SIGNED, "LOVE", AND OPENS WITH THE LINES, "WELL HERE I AM BACK AT THE WALL. / MY THERAPIST WANTS ME TO WRITE DOWN MY FEELINGS, SO I DECIDED TO WRITE TO YOU." IN CONTENT, THE LETTER REPRESENTS A GENERAL CONVERSATION BETWEEN A SURVIVING VETERAN OF THE VIETNAM WAR AND THOSE LISTED ON THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM). THE AUTHOR OF THE LETTER NOTES THAT, "IT STILL DOESN'T FEEL LIKE ITS OVER. / VIETNAM WAS 20 YRS AGO FOR ME, YET IT COULD BE YESTERDAY", EXPRESSES GUILT FOR HAVING SURVIVED THE WAR WHEN SO MANY OTHERS DIED, AND APPEALS TO THOSE LISTED ON THE MEMORIAL FOR FORGIVENESS. THE UNIDENTIFIED AUTHOR GOES ON TO REFERENCE A PHRASE POPULAR AMONGST VIETNAM VETERANS (I.E. "IT DON'T MEAN NOTHIN") AND TO STATE THE PERSPECTIVE THAT THE WAR AND THE SACRIFICES MADE BY SERVICEMEMBERS IN VIETNAM, "[...] HAS TO MEAN SOMETHING." THE AUTHOR CLOSES BY OPINING THAT, "PERHAPS ITS MEANING IS YET TO BE FELT OR SEEN IN OUR WORLD [...] IF WE KEEP ASKING THE QUESTION "WHY?" LONG ENOUGH, AN ANSWER MAY EMERGE", AND CONCLUDES HIS LETTER WITH THE LINE, "AN ANSWER THAT WILL BRING PEACE." ACCORDING TO VIVE CATALOG NOTES PREPARED BY MRCE COLLECTIONS STAFF, AN NPS RANGER'S TAG ORIGINALLY DISCOVERED WITH THE OBJECT READ, "10/32".

ACCESSION GROUP

VIVE-00068

RECORD COPONENT QTY

1

ASSOCIATED ITEM TEXT

Text of the handwritten inscription upon the obverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: "Hi, / Well here I am back at The Wall. / My therapist wants me to write down my feelings, so I decided to write to you. / It still doesn't feel like its over. / Vietnam was 20 yrs ago for me, yet it could be yesterday. / I feel guilty sometimes for being alive when all of you are dead. / Forgive me. / Remember the expression "It don't mean nothin"? / Well it doesn't work anymore. / It has to mean something. / Perhaps its meaning is yet to be felt or seen in our world. / Maby [sic] thats [sic] why so many of us keep it alive. / If we keep asking the question "Why?" long enough, an answer may emerge. / An answer that will bring peace. / Love"

ITEM DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT

Item Weight: 3.5g
Item Length: 27.5cm
Item Width: 21.5cm