By Michael E. Ruane
September 20, 2016
The object was the painted bust of an American soldier, one side of the face depicting a smooth-skinned young serviceman, the other an aged, long-haired veteran with pocked features and a tearful, staring eye.The sculpture was packed in bubble wrap inside a taped-up box and was wheeled on a dolly to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial one day last month by three people who looked to be in their 60s.
They asked Al Gallant, a volunteer guide, if it was okay to leave a memento. Sure, he said. They pushed the cart down the path to the Wall, took the sculpture from the box, and walked away. One of them paused to snap a picture as they departed.
What they had left was an unusual piece — “macabre,” Gallant called it. And, like many of the 400,000 items left at the Wall since 1982, it had a story.
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