05 October 2014

A long-overdue dedication ceremony

The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedication ceremony is today in Washington, D.C. The Memorial consists of a reflecting pool, with a star-shaped fountain broken by a ceremonial flame in its center, a series of bronze sculptures, 48 etched and laminated glass panels and two stone inscription walls (with quotes from George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower).

The memorial is the result of the efforts of Lois Pope, an American philanthropist, through her Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial Foundation. She spearheaded the effort in 1997 after reflecting that there was no memorial dedicated to those, living and deceased, who were disabled as a result of their service to their country.

Below is the excerpt from the DVLMF page where she describes the moment over 40 years ago, as a Broadway performer entertaining disabled vets receiving treatment at the Rusk Rehabilitation Center in New York:

 "I chose the song "Somewhere" from West Side Story. One of its lyrics goes, "Hold my hand and I'll take you there." As I sang those words, I saw one man lying on a gurney. He had no hands for me to hold!

But he did have a smile that illuminated the room brighter than any klieg light on a performance stage. With that smile, he took me not "there," but here, to where my life was enlightened, inspired, and forever changed. 

I left the Rusk Center that evening with the determination that the courage and tenacity of these veterans would be recognized and honored in perpetuity. I envisioned a memorial which would honor them, their courage and serve to educate all Americans as to the human cost of their sacrifices. 

Some years later in Washington, I stood at the Vietnam Wall before my cousin's name. I looked around at the other Memorials. There was Washington, and Jefferson, and Lincoln. But there was no memorial to that quadriplegic at the Rusk Center. There was no permanent monument to these courageous young men and women. They have given so much more than was ever asked for by their fellow citizens. 

We, therefore, have a solemn obligation to assure that they will never be forgotten or neglected. I thought to myself, all right, now I am in a position to do something about this. I must." 

The Memorial is located at 150 Washington Ave., SW, just across from the U.S. Botanical Gardens and near the Capitol. 

I agree that this Memorial is long overdue and I hope it brings some comfort and solace to those injured and disabled in our country's conflicts. 

(All Memorial photos courtesy of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial website.)

1 comment:

  1. Beans, Thank you for this, as someone who has worked side by side to all my friends, and been in the hospital with those from wars far past and new, I have seen the determination as well as despair… Yes this is long overdue.