My family was never personally affected by the Vietnam War and I had never known anyone whose family was personally affected by the Vietnam War. I guess I should consider myself lucky, as it never really had any kind of impact on me. I knew that it had been a very controversial and unpopular war and that tens of thousands of American lives were lost in some god-forsaken hellhole half way around the world. I also remember hearing stories of our returning troops being spat upon and cursed at when they arrived home. We became embarrassed and ashamed of our involvement in the war. No one talked about it and we all did our best to forget about it, including myself.
For years I did a great job of forgetting about the war and then it happened. I saw your picture. It was hanging in the hallway of your sisterís house. I was there with your niece Lynne, who I had met a few months earlier. I asked about the picture and was saddened to hear that you had died during the war in Vietnam. I thought about what a shame it was that you had died at such a young age and I took a moment to reflect upon the life you gave and the lives that were given by the over 50,000 other brave men and women of this country during that war.
Before that day I had never been able to personally connect with the lives lost, the sacrifices made and the families affected. Seeing your picture there, on that wall, on that day helped to finally bring that war home to me and make it real.
A few weeks ago I was reading the paper and I came across an article about something called the "Virtual Wall". While reading the story I immediately flashed back to that picture of you I had seen in that hallway a couple of years ago. I knew exactly what I had to do next.
Ronald Ludwig Radil, I never knew you but I am thanking you now for the ultimate sacrifice you made for your country. You gave your life so that others, including myself, could continue to live and work in a free and open society. I, along with every other citizen of this great country, owe you and your fallen brethren a level of gratitude that can only be repaid by us never forgetting the memory of your unselfish and courageous acts. This memorial is just one small way I can accomplish a part of that task.
Gardner Quinn Broadbent
The database page for Ronald Ludwig Radil
25 Nov 2001
Last updated 03/13/2003