From the collection of the National Park Service, National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Printed narrative. The narrative is entitled, "HIS NAME'S NOT ON YOUR WALL", bears a handwritten inscription dedicating it to Vietnam veteran, "Bobby Ryscik / of Port Chester, NY / 1950 - 1978", and opens with the lines, "His name's not on your wall. / It should be. / He died there, long before he was dead." In content, the narrative describes Mr. Ryscik's struggles to readjust to civilian life and his subsequent suicide following military service in Vietnam. The artifact was left at The Wall by an anonymous donor, and childhood friend of Mr. Ryscik, between January - April 1990.
PRINTED NARRATIVE. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A NARRATIVE DEDICATED TO VIETNAM VETERAN, "BOBBY RYSCIK" AND PRINTED IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF PLAIN WHITE, UNLINED PAPER. THE NARRATIVE IS ENTITLED, "HIS NAME'S NOT ON YOUR WALL", BEARS A HANDWRITTEN INSCRIPTION IN BLUE INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS ALONG THE LOWER EDGE OF THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE READING, "TO: BOBBY RYSCIK / OF PORT CHESTER, NY / 1950 - 1978", AND OPENS WITH THE LINES, "HIS NAME'S NOT ON YOUR WALL. / IT SHOULD BE. / HE DIED THERE, LONG BEFORE HE WAS DEAD." IN CONTENT, THE NARRATIVE DESCRIBES MR. RYSCIK'S STRUGGLES TO READJUST TO CIVILIAN LIFE AND HIS SUBSEQUENT SUICIDE FOLLOWING MILITARY SERVICE IN VIETNAM. SPECIFICALLY, THE AUTHOR CHARACTERIZES MR. RYSCIK AS, "THIS SMALL, SENSITIVE BOY WHO WOULDN'T LET ME STEP ON A BUG WHEN WE WERE KIDS", AND RECOUNTS CRYING WITH MR. RYSCIK'S HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEART THE DAY HE WAS DRAFTED AS WELL AS PUNCHING A HOLE IN THE DINING ROOM WALL WHEN MR. RYSCIK ANNOUNCED HIS DEPLOYMENT TO VIETNAM OVER CHRISTMAS DINNER. THE AUTHOR BITTERLY NOTES THE DIVERGENCE OF EXPERIENCE BETWEEN HIMSELF AND MR. RYSCIK IN THE LINES, "BACK TO COLLEGE FOR ME; THE JUNGLES OF VIETNAM FOR HIM. / TOO BUSY PROTESTING THE WAR TO WRITE TO ONE OF ITS VICTIMS", AND STATES THAT, "THE SPATTER OF GUNFIRE, RUMBLING OF TANKS AND CLOUDS OF EXPLOSIONS WERE TOO INCONGRUOUS, JUST INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO HIS CARING AND GENTLE NATURE." THE AUTHOR PROCEEDS TO DESCRIBE MR. RYSCIK'S SAFE RETURN HOME, HIS INABILITY TO ADJUST TO LIFE FOLLOWING THE WAR, HIS EMPLOYMENT INSTABILITY, HIS SEARCH FOR, "[...] DIGNITY, SIMPLE SELF-RESPECT. / PEACE", AND HIS DESCENT INTO SUBSTANCE ABUSE IN THE LINES, "ALCOHOL AND DRUGS BECAME THE ONLY INEBRIANT [sic] TO NUMB THE PAIN AND SUFFERING. / OBLIVION WAS THE PREFERRED STATE TO FEAR AND GUILT." FINALLY, THE AUTHOR STATES THAT MR. RYSCIK WAS ONLY ABLE TO SOOTHE NIGHTMARES AND DIM FLASHBACKS, NOTES THAT FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND METAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WERE UNABLE TO RESCUE HIM, AND CLOSES HIS NARRATIVE WITH THE LINES, "HE PULLED THE TRIGGER ON THAT GUN THREE YEARS AFTER HE RETURNED FROM NAM, SO HIS NAME'S NOT ON YOUR WALL. / IT SHOULD BE."
Text of the printed and handwritten inscriptions upon the obverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: [Obverse object surface, printed inscriptions] "HIS NAME'S NOT ON YOUR WALL / His name's not on your wall. / It should be. / He died there, long before he was dead. / This small, sensitive boy who wouldn't let me step on a bug when we were kids. / I sat on the front porch crying with his high school sweetheart that summer day he was drafted. / Christmas dinner that year was so special because he was home on leave -- until the announcement, "They're sending me to Nam." / Everyone cried except him. / Tears of anger exploded my fist through the dining room wall. / Happy New Year! / Back to college for me; the jungles of Vietnam for him. / Too busy protesting the war to write to one of its victims. / Angry with his complacency, more saddened by his acceptance of the inevitable. / Two years passed quickly for me. / Just the beginning of the end for him. / Those days and nights in the guard tower he recorded as his refuge high above the insanity and destruction on the ground below. / The spatter of gunfire, rumbling of tanks and clouds of explosions were too incongruous, just incomprehensible to his caring and gentle nature. / Alcohol and drugs became the only inebriant [sic] to numb the pain and suffering. / Oblivion was the preferred state to fear and guilt. / Finally he was home, safe in the arms of his sweetheart, yet so uncomfortable in his bell-bottom jeans. / Marriage followed job. / Job followed job, followed job. / Lost, insecure, looking not for honor, just dignity, simple self-respect. / Peace. / Nightmares were soothed, flashbacks dimmed only by the continuing state of oblivion. / Family, friends, professional counselors -- all unable to rescue him from the path of self-destruction. / He pulled the trigger on that gun three years after he returned from Nam, so his name's not on your wall. / It should be." / [Obverse object surface, handwritten inscription] "To: Bobby Ryscik / of Port Chester, NY / 1950 - 1978"
Item Weight: 4.8g
Item Length: 27.9cm
Item Width: 21.5cm