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At ‘Moving’ Vietnam War Memorial: 'I Know A Lot Of Guys On This Wall'

The portable half-sized replica of the 1982 “Vietnam Veterans Memorial” is on view in Malden’s Forest Dale Cemetery. (Greg Cook)

experiences

MALDEN, Mass. — “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.”

“I’m just paying tribute to the Malden guys there," said David Hopkins when he visited the “Moving Wall” with his wife Susan. (Greg Cook)

“I’m just paying tribute to the Malden guys there,” said David Hopkins when he visited the “Moving Wall” with his wife Susan. (Greg Cook)

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.”

The "Moving Wall" lists the names of more than 58,000 Americans “in the order they were taken from us.” (Greg Cook)

The “Moving Wall” lists the names of more than 58,000 Americans “in the order they were taken from us.” (Greg Cook)

The tally of names begins in 1959. (Greg Cook)

The tally of names begins in 1959. (Greg Cook)

Kevin Crowe died on June 5, 1969, the same day as another Malden man, Anthony Sestito, was killed in Vietnam. (Greg Cook)

Kevin Crowe died on June 5, 1969, the same day as another Malden man, Anthony Sestito, was killed in Vietnam. (Greg Cook)

The "POW-MIA" flag flies over the "Moving Wall." (Greg Cook)

The “POW-MIA” flag flies over the “Moving Wall.” (Greg Cook)

Jacob Babin of Malden was killed in 1971 while driving the lead vehicle in a military convoy. (Greg Cook)

Jacob Babin of Malden was killed in 1971 while driving the lead vehicle in a military convoy. (Greg Cook)

Raymond Gignac of Malden reenlisted in the Army after service in World War II and Korea. Two weeks after he arrived in Vietnam in 1968, he died of a heart attack. (Greg Cook)

Raymond Gignac of Malden reenlisted in the Army after service in World War II and Korea. Two weeks after he arrived in Vietnam in 1968, he died of a heart attack. (Greg Cook)