Editorials

Memorial Day is for saying the names

Vietnam War veterans from Belleville are remembered on a new granite monument at Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville.
Vietnam War veterans from Belleville are remembered on a new granite monument at Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville. bweisenstein@bnd.com

Six rows. Eight stones per row, plus one extra in the last row. Fourty-nine names of Belleville youth who served and died in Europe and on Pacific islands and in Korea and Vietnam. Front and center in their ranks and files they rest at Walnut Hill Cemetery.

Just added nearby are wings of black granite with 15 names and dates. Their birthdates show they were often children of World War II vets. “Dedicated to those from the Belleville area who gave their all in the Vietnam War.”

Allen Gray. Pete Hammond. Ronald Roberts. Terry Pensoneau. John Lankford. Charles Geller. James Klopmeyer. Philip Smith. Lawrence Denny. William Thompson. Joseph Wylie III. James Neumeyer. Thomas Irwin. Lawrence Grass. Glenn Eisenhour.

If you look hard enough you will find a connection to these young men. Those connections fade with years, and memories, and generations. There is an attempt to hold on to a fragment of them and do them honor by carving their names in stone.

Some believe there are three deaths: When the body ceases to function; when it is laid to rest; when the name is spoken for the last time.

Today, Memorial Day, is a day to repeat the names.

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