I wanted to share an article that I wrote for Salute an online newsletter.
The names between the lines.
When my husband, Eddie and I were in Washington DC in 1995 we purchased a cassette tape tittled "Songs of the Wall". At first we listened to it every time we were in the car. The words are emotional, moving and sad and often our eyes would fill with tears but still we listened over and over again. As time went on we listened less but have never forgotten the songs.
One of the songs is titled "The Wall: Between the Lines."
I am not alone, I'm waiting for the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, lovers and friends.
They're not on the Wall, but read between the lines.
They're not on the Wall, their names are hard to find.
They're not on the Wall, but they have paid the price.
God be with them all tonight."
There are nearly 60,000 names on the Wall and each one had family and friends.
Lt. James M Mitchell Jr. He had a young wife and a daughter he had never seen. We have met Jan and Erin and keep in touch with them. That helps keep his memory alive. Cpl Daniel Duffy. He had parents and a 10 year old sister . Just over a year ago we found his sister Felicia. We have talked with her and keep in touch with her though we have yet to actually meet. She was thankful to be able to talk with Eddie and learn more about her brother. Both of these men were killed from the same land mine that injured my husband. They were his comrades in arms.
LCpl Charles Sides. On that visit to the Wall in 1995 Eddie was drawn to a name on the first panel...Charles Sides. They had gone through boot camp together and been separated afterwards. Charles had gone into Vietnam and been killed just before Eddie had arrived in country. Eddie never knew he had been killed till he saw his name on the Wall. When we returned we tried to find his parents. He had been from Oklahoma City. We never found them.
Each time we go to the Wall we always see items left by those whose names are "between the lines"....the families and friends. They leave pictures, poems, letters and mementos. They continue to "pay the price" of having lost a loved one on a far away battlefield.
On one trip to Branson, MO we met Gold Star mother Dorothy Shaferknocker. She had a large picture of her son that she set at the bottom of the panel that holds her son's name. She lovingly placed it there each morning and gently picked it up each evening during the week that the Wall was on display there. She has kept in touch with men her son served with...this has been a help to her.
And now we are at war again with more of our young men and women becoming names on a list of casualties. ALL of them have people that they have left behind: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, cousins, lovers, and friends. People who will have to carry the emptiness with them of the loved one lost. On our last trip to Washington DC we met Gold Star parents Nancy and Michael Szwydek. Their son LCpl Steven W Szwydek was serving in Iraq as a Marine when he and two of his friends were killed in October of 2005. His mother told me "I never stop missing him". She shared an album of pictures of her son. He was a handsome young man who loved being a Marine. He has left a hole in the hearts of those who knew and loved him...and even those of us who come to know him through his family.
Each time a name is added to the list of those killed in service to our nation...another list, a longer list of "names between the lines" grows.
God be with them all each and every night.