“I know a lot of guys on this wall, but I don’t remember their names,” David Hopkins told me when he visited the “Moving Wall” with his wife Susan yesterday evening. “So I’m just paying tribute to the Malden guys there.”
The portable half-sized replica of the 1982 “Vietnam Veterans Memorial”—one of two copies that travel the country—is on view on a grassy rise in Malden’s Forest Dale Cemetery off Forest Street 24 hours a day (it’s lit at night) through noon Monday, June 10.
The original in Washington, D.C., designed by Maya Lin it is one of the greatest memorials in the world, and one of the most iconic artworks of the past century. It lists the names of more than 58,000 Americans “in the order they were taken from us.”
Hopkins said he served in the U.S. Army’s 1st Calvary Division in Vietnam from November 1965 to November 1966. “On the central highlands at a place called An Khe,” the Malden resident said. “I never saw a tank while I was there. It was all mountains and jungles.”
He got 30 days emergency leave to travel home when his father died in February 1966, but “like an idiot I was in a hurry to go back.” He added, “When I went back after two weeks, out of 65 [guys I’d left] there, 30 were left. My father dying saved my life.”
Hopkins is now retired from the phone company, but said he continues to experience post-traumatic stress disorder from what he witnessed during the war.
“I’m still feeling the effect of that,” he said. “I’m still going to counseling. Hard to get it out of your mind. And I still can’t remember their names.”
This article was originally published on June 09, 2013.
This program aired on June 9, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.