Monday, March 20, 2006

Stacy and the Tags

At Vietnam Dog Tags a 35 year old woman who only says her name is "Stacy", is collecting dog tags from Vietnam and reuniting them with their owners or their owner's families. She visited Vietnam and went to the Independence Palace (the place that had the big iron gates that were broken through by the Communists in 1975.) Here is what happened:

Downstairs, in the palace, I saw for the first time, Military Identification Tags ..."Dog Tags." I stood there for a long time just looking at them disconcertingly. Then, with my hands, I motioned to the Vietnamese girls behind the counter. They didn't speak an ounce of English, but understood that I was asking to look at the tags in the case. I wondered if they were real? I wondered why our government hadn't come over and bought everything up...The tags looked old, tattered, soiled, bent and rusted. There were not many of them. I bought them all... As I walked outside, my steps slowed. I took one of the tags out and looked at it closely as the traffic whizzed by. Suddenly, it dawned on me...maybe THIS was what I could do for the Veterans. Something so small and yet it was "something." That day, I decided to search for as many tags as I could find in the weeks to come. Even if they were not genuine, the optimist in me said, there had to be at least one tag that was real. And, if I could find that ONE family and return the tag, somehow everything up to this point would be worth it.

She traveled alone with a backpack. She went through village after village with a crumpled up note written in Vietnamese asking villagers if they had any dog tags to sell. She took back a backpack weighed down with dog tags to America. She still seeks more tags.

To date she has "reunited" 502 dog tags with their owners or with the families of their owners.

This story moved me greatly. It was a website I had come on quite randomly, if such things are random. Here is this remarkable young woman who was barely born when Vietnam battles were raging.Yet she decides to do something, her something to help healing happen. And she ends up trekking through Vietnam, on her own, to make it happen. She has a list of all the tags on her site, including those that have been distributed. The most poignant entries are entries that say "contacted, did not want".

And why did she do this? She knew some veterans who confided in her. Some of them had PTSD (Post Traumatic Shock Disorder). She let herself hear them. She opened her heart.

She was moved.

God Bless her.

It's a powerful message to a veteran of those years to say,"Here is something you thought you lost." They have lost so much. It must mean a great deal to the families of the departed to have some tangible memento.

I don't know this woman, but I feel so thankful to her.

I will be talking about Vietnam off and on in the next few entries. I think there is a lot to say.

5 Comments:

Blogger The Harbour of Ourselves said...

i think you have great integrity...

5:00 PM  
Blogger The Harbour of Ourselves said...

...and courage....i raise my glass to you...

5:01 PM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Thanks, but let's both raise our glasses to Stacy...

5:49 PM  
Blogger samtzmom said...

What a lovely story Mata... Indeed, one person CAN make such a huge difference.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Rainbow dreams said...

A very moving story, thought provoking and inspirational....

7:34 AM  

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