Our World Tuesday: Lejeune Memorial Gardens

I took Adella to the Lejeune Memorial Gardens recently, and we took in the Beirut Memorial, a beam from the World Trade Center mounted as a memorial to all who died there, and the Vietnam Memorial.
 The Beirut Memorial says "They Came in Peace" and depicts this Marine coming through a broken wall.

The memorial honors the 220 Marines who perished when Hezbollah attacked their barracks in October, 1983.  They were a significant proportion of the 1800 Marines stationed in Beirut at the time. At the same time, 58 French soldiers were also killed there.

Hezbollah originated in Lebanon and Syria in 1982, but, of course, the big mess that has become one long war in the Middle East began a century ago with the First World War.  At the end of that conflict, the British and the French were too busy carving up real estate to suit their own desires for oil and control to pay any attention to the people there, how they lived, and what they might have to say about it.  The rest is history--or peackeeping, if you're a fan of the leaders who keep sending people there to lose wars.

Here's a piece of Middle Eastern craziness that visited New York City 13 years ago and took 3,000+ lives. this beam came from the World Trade Center.  There was a prayer card for one of the victims resting on the plaque when we were there.  Made me stop and think about that day and all the milk people sent to the City and all the other food that ended up in so many places because there was so much.  But the milk is what got me thinking.  All that mothering that just won't be snuffed about by even the cruelest of monsters.  That little prayer card and that beam were strange and powerful affirmations of what we can create and do though others will destroy and undo.
The Vietnam Memorial in Jacksonville is a  profoundly moving memorial..  Before you get to it, there is this nondescript brick wall with the emblems of the armed forces and all the flags.  "This is it?" I wondered the first time I saw it.  But no:  You keep walking, making your way across a beautiful little bridge to a footpath that takes you to a garden of crape myrtle and other local flora.  It smells like heaven.

When you get close to the glass and read the names, you see yourself--and the garden beyond.  Space is fluid, and the people who fought in Vietnam are at once real and present--a part of the landscape--and ghostly, gone.

 Though the war ended almost 40 years ago, people still come and remember.  They leave small tokens that speak for yet overfull hearts.



Some come and learn for the first time.  Whatever you understand about war and politics and peace when you get there, you leave with the overwhelming realization that some people will give you everything even though you might never understand exactly why.  Realizing this, you walk away wondering what you're willing to give.  You ask your heart some serious questions, and you realize serious answers do not come easily.

The colonnade around the fountain was new to me.  It is a beautiful addition because it creates shade and captures the sound of the fountain, which resonates around the garden.  Who, who, who are you?  You hear the song in your head, and your heart works on the answer.  You are among those names.  What does that mean to you?
May they rest in peace.

Our World Tuesday

Comments

  1. what a wonderful place - and a sad place - and a questioning place.

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  2. It looks so beautiful there. Still, what a shame we have to have places like these dedicated to the dead of war.

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  3. Ah, yes! Sad, beautiful, heartbreaking and questioning! A very moving post, Sandy, thank you for sharing!

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  4. Very well expressed. My coworker in 1984 had a baby whose daddy was one of those Beirut US Marines.....


    ALOHA from Honolulu
    ComfortSpiral
    =^..^= . <3 . >< } } (°>

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  5. hope i too get to see this memorial.

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  6. Great post, should make everybody think about what we are trying to do when we send our young men and women overseas to fight.

    I love your "...you walk away wondering what you're willing to give"

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