"AS I SEE IT"
(By Melanie Edwards, 1994)

When I am looked at, people cry at their reflection, as they slowly drag their hands 
down the tens of thousands of names that have been carved into my dark granite skin. All of a sudden their hands stop and they kneel to the ground and cry. Although I am just a chunk of granite I have feelings too. 
When I see them on their knees, I hurt, and as they say good-bye, I cry.

I can remember when they decided that I would be a part of the Vietnam War Memorial. I was happy. They sanded me by hand, until I was leveled. I can remember the soft polish that made my black granite coat shine. 
Then it happened.

As they took me to another room, my heart started to pound. I didn't know what was happening. Then they started to chisel names into me. I was confused and I didn't understand. I turned my eyes and saw another stone. 
I was shocked when I read it. In big bold print,

"HERE LIES THE NAMES OF THOSE WHO DIED PROTECTING OUR COUNTRY IN THE VIETNAM WAR."

I wanted to die. 
Why me? Why did they pick me for this? I don't want to be the one to tell people 
that their husband, father, relatives, friends ----they're dead.

I can remember the day they put me in the park. I was scared because I didn't know what to expect. The day they opened the Memorial Wall, a girl, no older than seventeen, came up to me. Her mother whispered that her father's name was imprinted on me. My heart started to pound. When they found his name, she asked her mother to leave her alone. Her mother left, and the girl set an American Flag with a yellow ribbon tied to it, at the bottom of me. She stood back up, touched her father's name, and collapsed to her knees. She was saying a prayer. She asked God why he took him. She explained that he was a very good father, and she didn't understand why he took him, her father, of all people. She asked him to help her cope. As she said this, a warm breeze hit her. I could've sworn that that was an act of God. Then she started to cry, uncontrollably.
 I wanted to hold her, just to let her know how much I cared.

About thirty minutes later, her mother came and whispered that it was time to go. 
Her mother called her Marcy. She stood up, face covered in tears, and whispered good-bye. 
Then she left.

To this day none have touched my heart as much as Marcy. I will always remember the little prayer, the breeze, the whispered words, the girls face, and the way she made my heart shatter that day.  For it was that day, 
and that girl, Marcy, who made me realize why I am here.
 Even though I still hurt, I realize my purpose.

Now, as I sit in this Washington, DC park, with tall trees surrounding me, it might as well rain. For all the people who come here hurt, passion and love rains inside. Even if people have no relatives carved on me, they still cry, because of all the people who died in the war, and for them we all hurt. I know it hurts people to find a loved one chiseled on me, and to remember how much they loved them. It hurts me too, to think about all the people who died in the war.

Although I am just a piece of granite, I have feelings too.