Tag Archives: memorial day

Day 151 – The Wall

In honor of Memorial Day, we read a poignant story told from the point of view of a little boy visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC with his father. “The Wall” by Eve Bunting is touching and thought-provoking, covering a complex subject without being maudlin or judgmental, and the straightforward prose is nicely accessible to younger listeners.The Wall

The somber water-color illustrations show the pair walking in their winter coats, looking for the name of the little boy’s grandfather along a wall that stretches out far into the distance. Along the way, they encounter a man with no legs sitting in a wheelchair dressed in camouflage and pass by an older couple holding each other and crying. Eventually they find grandpa’s name – George Munoz – and the little boy’s father holds a piece of paper over the name and rubs it with a pencil so that the letter show up white. As his father bows his head quietly, the little boy sees an old man pass by holding his grandson’s hand. “Can we go to the river now?” asks the passing boy. “Yes,” says his grandfather, “but button your jacket. It’s cold.”

As narrator and his father prepare to leave, his father says to him “…(this) is a place of honor. I’m proud that your grandfather’s name is on this wall”. “I am, too” says the narrator, but he thinks to himself “…I’d rather have my grandpa here, taking me to the river, telling me to button my jacket because it’s cold. I’d rather have him here.” It still chokes me up to read that line over again.

There are plenty of opportunities here for discussion – if you are so inclined (how did that man lose his legs? why is┬áthe older couple crying? why does that wall seem so long?). But even if you aren’t, “The Wall” is still a quietly powerful book and a great choice for Memorial Day – or any day.