A little snow had fallen in the DC Metro area, it was the first snow of the season. The National Mall and Memorials were quiet with only a few people out and about. I took this photo when initially arriving at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a place I enjoy visiting especially on those mornings when there are no crowds. I was curious as to why this lady was out so early and seemed intent to find something or someone on the Memorial Wall. I sparked up a conversation with her inquiring about her visit to the Memorial and what she was looking for so intently?
And so the story begins…. Lauri was visiting DC from Oklahoma and was on a mission for her father. Her uncle had apparently died in the Vietnam War and she was the first family member to visit the wall and was in hopes of getting a rubbing of his name on paper for her dad. The task ended up much harder than expected since his name was listed higher than she could reach. I could see the disappointment on her face when she located her uncle’s name- way up high and even a ladder wouldn’t help her at this point. I asked if I could help in anyway and suggested she go to the top of the hill and see if she can lean over and reach his name and I could help her from below locate it. She gave me the column number and line he was etched on. Having come so far and braved the bitter cold, she was not giving up. Lauri quickly ran to the top of the hill but then abruptly stopped in her tracks. Once on the hill, she immediately noticed the sign stating “stay off the grass.” What would she do now? Well… she made a dash for it! I quickly counted the columns for her and then counted up each line to find her Uncle’s name. “It’s right here,” I kept yelling as she kept re-positioning her pencil and paper until she was over his name. Within a minute or two she was done and off the grass before anyone of authority noticed. I have to say, I admired her determination and passion to get this meaningful rubbing for her father. She couldn’t quit smiling and it was obvious how pleased she was of herself- mission accomplished!
Later I was thinking about all the families whose relatives and loved ones are etched on these granite panels making up the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. There has to be an easier way to receive a rubbing of their loved ones name. They had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and their families should be able to receive this in honor of them. So I started researching the topic of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial name rubbings. Right there in a google search was the link to a form to request the rubbing and have it sent to a family member. If you have a family member or know of a friend who has a loved one etched in this Memorial, think about requesting a rubbing. What a beautiful gift it would be. The form can can be found here: