A WAR MEMORIAL WITHOUT PARALLEL OR COMPARISON

Wind chimes can either please or rattle people's understanding of subtle arte fact being lulled by a gentle intermittent breeze, which can very quickly turn to anger when the breeze strengthens, and the melodious jingle turns into a permanent and annoying clatter! Moreover, whilst one of two might be acceptable, what about having fifty eight thousand of them all in a rectangular area measuring ten by forty feet, and those hanging together from the ceiling of one room! A reasonable reaction might be a robust no thank you, but 'things' can be innovatively engineered which will so demonstratively affect your body and soul reaction, that you will be for ever smitten by the experience.

More about that in a moment of two.

The USA of all countries, are the only group of patriots who show their respect on a daily basis for their dead service personnel. Washington DC is the hub of that ceremonial respect, but it is a nationwide attitude to remembrance that should be applauded by the rest of the western world and her allies. Just to qualify my statement, every day of the year come rain, snow or sunshine a permanent team of resplendent service personnel parades in Arlington National Cemetery {Washington DC} at the out-door tomb of Their Unknown Warrior's Grave, and the public are encouraged to witness the daily event which believe me, is an honour to be able to observe, such is the evident devotion to duty of these men* and the dignity with which they perform that duty. In comparison, there is very little and mostly unknown by the general public, of overt and explicit acknowledgements of the grave of our Unknown Warrior [soldier] which is sited in a prominent position as one enters Westminster Abbey in London, which is the only church whose modus operandi is exercised by the Dean of Westminster on behalf of the Monarch: as such, it is not a 'normal' Church of England' under the remit of the Archbishop of Canterbury and its appointment bishops and clerics. The respect afforded to our Tomb of the Unknown Warrior is implicit, manifest in the reverence shown by all who visit the abbey though in truth, because of the siting, few [pro rata] tarry at the grave side choosing to proceed deeper into the abbey, and by so doing, avoiding a congestion in the rather narrow access to the nave.

*The group rotates after each tour of duty measured in months, and I am not sure whether the group has females in it: my wife and I have witnessed the event on several occasions and to date we have not seen other than men perform this task which lasts for approximately twenty minutes.

 Washington DC has of course its cenotaphs [empty tombs] as we in the UK have, and just like the UK, the cenotaph and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior represent all the dead of that nation, and are revered equally. Washington DC devotes much of its land mass to monuments for the Services dead, and to see, enjoy and understand the sheer scope of such memorials, one would needs a few days in Arlington National Cemetery never mind another couple of days in the city's environs on the other side of its dividing great river. In our culture, we now have a National Arboretum, which whilst not a cemetery like Arlington, is a national shrine for our soldiers, sailors and airmen, killed whilst on duty or in action against an enemy, so, a cenotaph! The 'shrine' is rapidly being surrounded by a planned and tastefully managed arboretum, and among the trees there are many memorials to various regiments, ships, air force squadrons etc. Some trees are one-offs and grow in isolation, whilst others are planted in quite huge numbers as a group, the most famous group representing 50,000 lost mercantile mariners lost from the many vessel sunk whilst attempting to feed us and to supply our manufacturing system with raw materials.

Today, I am sticking with the Vietnam War Memorial, although the city has comparable Memorials to other wars like Korea for example, which is a harrowing life-sized visual experience of many battle-weary, heavily kitted and armed soldiers walking up a hill ready to engage the enemy on reaching the top. The Vietnam War Memorial is awe inspiring in its beautiful presentation, although it merely follows the pattern of the system we British are so familiar with, that of thousands of names [carved into the Memorial] of the lost souls of that terrible war. Even today, the subject for Americans is tender, not wholly because of the losses incurred, but for the way many Vietnam Veterans were [and are] treated on their return states-side. It is also a war which many of us Brit's wondered, as we regularly passed the Vietnamese enormously long coastline transiting from Singapore to Hong Kong and back, why we were not involved especially as a member of SEATO [South East Asia Treaty Organsation] we witnessed the Australians and New Zealand navies involved will always be a mystery to me, despite what our politicians said! By sea, Singapore is a mere 592 nm [nautical miles] from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

 Across the massive expanse of the USA there are countless thousands of Memorials, some large, some less so, some in large well known cities and many in rural backwaters. Apart from Washington DC, there is a very special Vietnam Memorial in the city of Chicago up in the north, and that is what the rest of this page will concentrate on.

 The Memorial takes the form of a building called the National Vietnam Vet's Art Museum.

When visitors first enter the museum, they will hear a sound like wind chimes coming from above them and their attention will be drawn upward 24 feet to the ceiling of the two-story high atrium.

The dog-tags of the more than 58,000 service men and women who died in the Vietnam War, were hung from the ceiling of the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago on Veterans Day, November 11, 2010 with a hope of giving it a permanent display.  At the time of writing this story 2014, the Vietnam artwork is closed to the public. The administrators of such pieces are currently vigorously looking for a site of permanency but to date, without success. What a great pity and a shame.

The 10-by-40-foot sculpture, entitled Above & Beyond, was designed by Ned Broderick and Richard Stein.

The thousands of metal dog tags are suspended 24 feet in the air, 1 inch apart, from fine lines that allow them to move and chime with shifting air currents. Museum employees using a kiosk and laser pointer help visitors locate the exact dog-tag with the imprinted name of a lost friend or relative.

These two pictures show the array of wind chimes which nobody could possibly complain about?

Keep your eyes open for the event of a re-launch, although perhaps not in the same building in which it was launched for public viewing in 2010.

Fantastic and wonderful idea.