|The Wall at the center|
Sometimes cleaning out boxes of photos and snips of newspapers deliver surprises. Articles usually about hometown news have grown brown and brittle, written about old friends now dead, long ago.
But, this one article made me sit down and read the entire article. It was from the Quincy Herald-Whig, dated November 14, 1982.
The headline read “150,000 cheer Viet War vets”, as they dedicated the Vietnam Veterans Memorial "The Wall", inscribed with the names of comrades who were killed or missing during this very controversial war:
"On a wintry day, over 8,000 veterans including families, disabled in wheelchairs or crutches, and those still grieving for the terrible loss, or those returned who had experienced rejection---now were honored and welcomed home.
It was a time of reunion for comrades who had survived and not seen each other since the Vietnam War ended.
It was also a time for survivors to seek out family members to tell them “Your son saved my life…I was in Quang Tri in 1968…He was a good man…” To be able to tell loved ones about this special person now gone, left both in tears and hugging.
They walked down the Mall in D.C., joined by Ret. Gen. Westmoreland, and later by President Reagan. He had been asked to be the keynote speaker, but declined, leaving that honor to someone else who had been in Vietnam."
What caught me was the closing paragraph in the newspaper article:
“William Peyton talked about becoming a policeman when he returned from Vietnam, but never got the chance. The helicopter crew chief was killed during the 1970 invasion of Cambodia." His mother, Minerva Peyton was moved to tears by the new memorial. “Our boys deserve the recognition,” she said. “They did the best they could, under the circumstances.”
My cousin Billy was remembered that day by my Aunt Minerva. On this day I remember and honor Billy Peyton as well.
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