A fifth-grade bully, a blossoming romance, a late-night crash
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I simply loved Michael Ventura’s “Standing at the Wall” [March 1994]. It reminded me vividly of my own visit to the Vietnam Memorial in 1980. Like Ventura, I was there on a day that was cold yet sunny. Both my mind and heart were trying to take in the enormity of it all when I witnessed something very personal. A young boy was cautiously climbing a ladder that leaned against the wall. An older man, perhaps his grandfather, steadied the ladder, and the boy’s mother (as if acting on behalf of all mothers everywhere) held tight to her son’s ankles as he rose higher. The boy, upon reaching the top step, looked at the wall, searching. His face shone in the wall’s mirror-black surface. Slowly his reflection registered a small smile of recognition.
I’ve often wanted to ask him: how did it feel to frame the name of your father with your hands, watching your reflection shine back at you? Was it cold as you pressed your lips against his name? Did your father feel the warmth from your kiss? I like to think so.