By Iain Woessner
In Washington D.C. there is a black wall that stretches along an idyllic field of grass. It is a wall burned into the minds of every American, a wall full of names. 58, 267 names—all the names of the dead, those who fought and died in the Vietnam War.
A recent list of statistics from this wall has come out, with some rather illuminating figures The names, arranged by date, has been steadily updated over the 36 plus years since the last casualties of the war. The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of Massachusetts, killed on June 8. 1956. His name is listed along with that of his son, Marine Corps Land Corporal Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed over ten years later in 1965.
They are one of three sets of fathers and sons written on the wall. The vast majority of names listed, 33, 103 were 18-years-old. More than half the wall’s names were 22 years or younger. Twelve soldiers on the Wall were only 17-years-old, and five were but 16. The youngest name on the wall is Private First Class Dan Bullock, who was 15.
Nearly 1000 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam—and 1, 448 soldiers were killed on their last. Thirty one sets of brothers are on the Wall, and thirty one sets of parents lost at least two of their sons. Eight women are featured on the Wall, all of whom were killed while nursing the wounded.
Interestingly, 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of whom are on the Wall. In terms of geography: one Philadelphia high school, Thomas Edison High, had 54 former students on the wall. Beallsville, Ohio, with a population of just 475, lost 6. The state with the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation was West Virginia, who has 711 of her children on the wall.
The most casualty deaths for a single day were on January 31, 1968: 245 deaths. The most casualties in a single month occurred on May, 1968, which saw 2,415 deaths.
History, it could be said, may very well be just a series of numbers and figures, and in its study and appreciation, many forget that every number represents a human life. These statistics do little to tell the engaging, tragic, inspiring and uplifting stories behind each and every name. War brings about the very worst and the very best in all of us—and there are few more somber, more impressive, and more fascinating than the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
“Carved on these walls is the story of America , of a continuing quest to preserve both Democracy and decency, and to protect a national treasure that we call the American dream.” ~President George Bush
Photos from http://thewall-usa.com/names.asp
Information from http://touchthewall.org/