Often, it’s a relative. Someone they probably didn’t know like their mom’s uncle. Recently, the woman said it was her boyfriend in 1969. She couldn’t believe it took this long to come see his name on the wall . . . summon the courage to confront pain that still seemed raw. Another time it was a woman’s husband whose body was recently recovered and buried at Arlington National Cemetery that morning.
One day, a 18-year-old woman with dreams of becoming a vascular surgeon and asking about local universities and hospitals, mentioned she had a relative on the Wall. I have “The Wall” app on my phone and found it.
“Who is this to you?” I asked.
“It was my great grandfather,” she said.
The man died in 1966. Could it really be her great grandfather? The men on the Wall are mostly those who would be my older brothers or one generation back. I have a neighbor who’s on the Wall. The young woman is almost a decade younger than my daughters. Maybe it was her grandfather. But no, she insisted it was her great grandfather and one of the volunteers told me just did another great grandfather relation.
We had the young lady rub her ancestor’s name to take home. As the letters appeared, it seemed to become even more real to her. That’s the beauty of the Wall.
Every day, there’s a new story on the Wall.