My artwork helps process memories of Vietnam

A story by Brian Barry from 2018

My Eagle drawing won first place in the Togus Arts and Crafts show, third in the Nationals. The names on the eagle are those who came home in a perpetual sleep.

I was in Vietnam (in country) from November '67-July '69 in the Marines. The combat school that I worked with was 20 miles south of Da Nang with a recon unit.

In the Tet of '68, this recon compound was infiltrated by the other side--the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. By morning we secured our compound. There were many dead and wounded on both sides.

Togus V.A. during the '80s and'90s had an eight week PTSD program called C.O.R.P.S (a number of persons acting together). Part of this program was a trip to "the Wall" sponsored by the D.A.V. with Gary Burns.

The honor roll taken from "The Wall" includes friends of mine, Brother Rick, members of the C.O.R.P.S group, their family and friends. I included one of the eight military women killed in action, to honor them. There were 67 American women killed in Nam, 59 civilians in the medical field, and eight military. During this period the V.A. at each hospital had an arts and crafts show, with the first place winner in all classes sent to a national show with awards.

I am the proud artist of this eagle and honor roll, and I was awarded first place at Togus and third place at the national event. I sign my work only when those that receive them request it. The "Brian R. Barry" on this honor roll came from rubbings from three K.I.A. (killed in action) to form my name. We all have a part of us that dies in such events. I am honored by the sacrifice of these three men, who allow me to share my living name to be on the wall and with the other 58,220 men and women as of 2008.

The V.A. in the late '70s established an outreach program for veterans with their wartime issues. The D.A.V. used store front locations to administer these outreach programs. Dominic Spada, a severely wounded Marine oversaw the Dorchester (Boston) location. A meeting, twice a week, with a psychiatrist was provided by the V.A. There were fourteen of us and we became the "fourteen sick and miserable head cases".

The ceramic necklace and braid were created and made by mothers of two of our members. The Necklace are the colors of the Republic of Vietnam. The Braid colors mean: Green=Life; Black=Death; Orange=Agent Orange.