By Marsha M. Brown
You don’t always know in life how the things you do will affect another person’s life or even your own for that matter.
I think it goes without saying that you always hope that you’ll make a difference in someone else for the better; that because of you another person will somehow, even in a small way, live a happier, healthier or more productive life. But when you can realize it, it’s a blessing.
This past week I received an email through [email protected] from a gentleman whose name is Steve Kettells. He had been reading GIG LINE and wrote to me because he wanted to share a Web site he thought Veterans would appreciate knowing about and…he was right.
The site, Mr. Kettells, a former U.S.A.F (1963 – 1967) service member referenced was http://www.virtualwall.org/iStates.htm which relates to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or “the Wall” as many people refer to it as that is located in Washington, D.C.
Some time ago on a very special occasion when Billy and I went to D. C., we had the opportunity to see “the Wall”. To say it was an unforgettable experience is an understatement. When you see it, you weep. Emotions overwhelm you. Loving or even just knowing a Vietnam Veteran fills you with pride and sadness too at what they must have gone through. No doubt men and women of all ages who neither served nor knew someone who served also cry in its presence.
The “Wall” a breathtaking masterpiece envelopes you. It’s beautiful, very dark and a striking figure that is 246’ 9” long. It’s an absolute and powerful reminder of the human sacrifice of heroic men and women who served in Vietnam and of those who paid the ultimate price.
Two days ago, in researching it on Wikipedia, I found that it was made of gabbro – a stone known for its reflective nature. It came from India; then it was cut and fabricated in Vermont and then etched in Tennessee. The predominant characteristic of the stone is especially important because when as a person stands in front of it searching for the name(s) of loved ones, their own reflection is seen among the names symbolizing “bringing the past and present together”.
When Mr. Kettells wrote to me providing the site address, Billy, of course, gravitated to it immediately. I saw on his face the gratitude of learning about the site but also the dread of knowing that in one simple key stroke, he would know the answer and the fate of his friend.
Billy realized quickly that the web site was easy to navigate and that sometimes there is a picture of the person you are searching for as well as their bio, medals awarded and other specifics relating to their service and death in Vietnam. My sweet husband almost immediately found the name of the mentor whom he had served with while he was there…and realizing that his Lt. Col. and close friend had, in fact, passed away.
Billy said his friend was a “good”, “intelligent man” and that even though he was his superior officer, “he was like one of them”. Having left Vietnam at a time when his Lt. Col. friend was alive, he had wondered…he wasn’t sure…until he viewed the site Mr. Kettells’ had brought to our attention.
Through several emails back and forth, Mr. Kettells said he had not heard the phrase “gig line” for a long time but once he saw it, he remembered its importance when he stood for inspections. His time in the military obviously meant a lot to him and except for a minimal disability of hearing loss, he wrote, he’d “do it again proudly”. During his service he said he listened for Morse code traffic and experienced some “exciting” and “tense moments”. During some of his service, he spent time serving Germany, Taipei, Taiwan and Okinawa. Mr. Kettells has been around.
Steve Kettells, you are a hero. You served our country and you did it with pride. Thank you for bringing the Web site to our attention for any and all of the Vietnam Veterans who may not have previously heard about it. Thank you too for reading GIG LINE and for caring about fellow Veterans.
Like I said in the beginning, some things we do in life impacts another person in a positive way. The kind gesture of referring us to that site touched Billy and me too and perhaps others who read GIG LINE. Thank you again for your military service and for still serving others.
Please write to me at [email protected] with questions or comments. Until next time be happy, be safe, be proud and stay tuned…
We were invited to Washington to attend a holiday Christmas event at the White House at a time when our 43rd President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush were in office.
The event was for the news correspondents and it was a thrill to say the least. While we were there, I met (and hugged) President Bush, shook hands with Mrs. Bush
The very famous 246’ 9” gabbro rock wall of names of those who served and were lost during the Vietnam War