Face the Wall



When we were in Washington DC, )Yes, I had been to the US; and when I get asked how it was there, I would always say, “cold”; or maybe we just went there at the wrong time of the year.) we took pictures at the World War II Memorial. It is a plaza for, as the name suggests World War II veterans. There are pillars each for each American state and the US territories at the time of the war; and our family took pictures with the backdrop of the granite pillar with the inscription of PHILIPPINES on it. Yes, we looked like total tourists there. It was not only the Philippines which is not a US state with a pillar in the plaza. There were also Samoa and Puerto Rico, by virtue of being former US territories with some participation in the war effort then. Before actually being there on the spot itself, I didn’t know that there was a World War II Memorial; and that it includes a pillar with PHILIPPINES inscribed on it. It is nice that our nation’s participation in the war is recognized. The rest of the world may think that our nation was just a bunch of islands that were run over by the Japanese juggernaut. Hey, our grandfathers put up a big fight then. World, that’s what this pillar means. I did some googling and I found out that that the memorial was established in 2004. Wait, didn’t World War II end in 1946?


Since we were already in the east coast, we did what any tourist would do – go to New York City where we visited another set of walls with the names of the victims of the 2001 September 11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. I also googled it and I found out that that it is called the National September 11 memorial which opened in 2011. At that time, I wasn’t paying much attention because I was just tired of walking and I was waiting for someone to get us some food.


Since we’re at the topic of memorials, let me toss in the discussion the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall which is also in Washington DC (Why didn’t we go there?). It’s similar to the 9-11 memorial walls in that it’s a wall with all the names of casualties of the Vietnam War. The memorial was opened in 1982, 7 years after the Fall of Saigon. (I wonder if they would put up an Afghanistan Memorial Wall for all those who were not evacuated before the August 31 deadline.) We also have our memorials here in our country such as the one honoring World War II soldiers in Capas National Shrine, Tarlac, or the one in Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City dedicated to the victims of martial law and the Marcos dictatorship.


I would give a thumbs up to these walls. We remember the part of the states and territories in World War II and those killed or missing in action in the Vietnam War which by the way, the US disgracefully lost. Then, there’s the 9-11 wall. These are declarations of support for all those who had fallen. It is a poignant statement that seemingly says we would have saved you from death and disaster, we would have saved you all from the enemy, we would have saved you all from the exploding and burning towers, if only we could, so we’re remembering you all this way.


Maybe these are the inspiration for the proposed memorial wall reportedly being fast tracked by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 to honor the health workers who have without doubt have heroically given their lives in the struggle against the pandemic.


There are just a few concerns.


The war is not over yet. Memorial walls or monuments are erected after the war is over and done with; as a matter of fact, years after the war has been won or lost. The Allies did not build a memorial before D-Day. The Death March captives did not put up a memorial before liberation. New York City did not put up a wall with the rubble still all over the place.


During the war, resources are directed towards winning the war. During World War II, all industries were directed towards putting all resources to win the war. During Martial Law, those who fought against the dictatorship put all efforts towards the revolution. In the height of the Vietnam War, all parties concerned directed their efforts towards ending the war. They did not allocate a part of their funds to put up some memorial. They used all the resources that they could gather to win the war.


There is a disconnect between what the fighters really need and what their commanders want to give. In this case, the task force is like a parent who is awarding medals and ribbons to his/her skinny children who are starving for food. When there is a disconnect like this, resources would be mismanaged, fighters would be ill-equipped and would have a good chance of losing, and ultimately we all would have a high probability of defeat.


So, the war isn’t over yet. Let’s just focus on trying to win the war.


“Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach” Nehemiah 2:17