This afternoon, Mom (below) and I made a visit. As it was a Friday afternoon, it was only moderately busy but I was touched by the people taking rubbings by pressing crayons to paper and by the mementos laid at the foot of the wall. It was a pleasant sunny day and this helped buoy the atmosphere in Library Park.
My only personal connection to the Vietnam era - besides being a college student at the time - was having a friend who would go to the Asian country and not return. Gary McKiddy was the one most on my mind as I walked along the wall. Who would not be touched by the 58,256 names inscribed there, all that potential lost?
Gary McKiddy (4/1/1950 - 5/6/1970) and I never had a chance to develop a very close friendship but it was one I cherished just the same. I first met him at his father's Shell station in Miamisburg (Central & Lawrence). I had known his Dad for some years, buying gas there every now and then. Eventually, when Gary began pumping gas (for you young readers, gasoline once came from a service station), we met and hit it off pretty quickly. He was interested in attending Miami University-Middletown which I had attended my first two years of college. One day we drove there together, toured the campus and had a memorably afternoon together.
It wasn't long thereafter - maybe a year -that I heard he had been killed in Cambodia. I didn't even know he had joined the Army rather than going to college.
Though I knew Gary for only a short while, he had one of those spectacular personalities, one that you can never forget. His loss is my loss as it is a loss for everyone who knew him.
To read more about Gary, go to: http://www.virtualwall.org/dm/MckiddyGL01a.htm
The Moving Wall is in Miamisburg 09/25 - 09/29.