A Name on The Wall

I treasure visits to the memorials in Washington DC.

Below is a writing my cousin, Stewart, aka, ‘Buddy’, wrote years ago that is fitting to honor those who serve our country at what can be an ultimate price.  Thanks to all who serve in our Armed Forces.  We honor you as we reflect on this Memorial Day.. – Madge

A Name on the Wall

There are 58,209 names on The Wall. I was only interested in finding one.

One name.  A name that still evokes memories of the spring of 1962.   I was eleven years old and a fifth grader at Toney Elementary.   Playing baseball, collecting baseball bubblegum cards and hiding them away in old cigar boxes was more than just a hobby, it was a vocation.  I played shortstop that year for the Longdale Little League Yankees. Marty Miller played first, lanky Ike Hallman pitched, a kid named Yogi played center field, Mike Ivie (who later lived out every boy’s dream by playing pro ball for the San Diego Padres) caught.  David Elrod played third.

We came in second, again, that year to the Cubs.  Our coach, Mr. Elrod, was always the encourager. He just loved coaching kids and coaching his only child, David.  He was a nice man.  The kind you don’t appreciate until years later.   I recall his son, David, as being a little temperamental but passionate about this game we loved. I still remember him throwing his glove into the dirt when someone on the other team would hit a home run.  Following each game, we would race to the concession stand to receive a free drink shouting,  “We want bug juice”. Acting like it was some sort of adult beverage, it was really just a combination of Coca-Cola, Orange and Grape soda.

David later graduated from nearby Gordon High School and joined the Marines.  A year later I graduated from Southwest DeKalb High School and prepared to start college at Georgia Tech.

I still remember Dad walking into my room the summer of 1969 to give me the news, “Buddy, David Elrod got killed in Vietnam ”.  Not long after, we made the difficult visit to Wards Funeral Home.  There in a closed casket laid David, with his heartbroken parents nearby.  Still, a familiar smile creased the face of Mr. Elrod.  A hug, some kind words, our visit complete, we left. The Vietnam War was no longer just a story on the 6 o’clock news.

That was 1969.  It is now a warm July day in Washington D.C. some 30 years later.  My wife and I stroll from the Lincoln Memorial to the nearby Vietnam Memorial.  For the first time, we view  “The Wall”.  A 500-foot long polished black granite wall that bear the names of those killed or missing in action in a war that remains a not too distant memory.  My eyes scan the names. Lance Corporal David Lamar Elrod, Panel 20W, Line 33.  KIA July 22, 1969.  His name forever etched in stone.  After walking the length of the Wall, I turn to look.  With weakening knees and through moist eyes, I see families laying wreaths, former soldiers leaning heavily upon the Wall, their hands reaching out to touch a fallen comrade.  So long ago, yet so fresh. 

Thirty years earlier war protests rocked our Country.   But today, this chevron shaped wall is for some, a place of healing, and for others, a place to remember a time of innocence, little league baseball, and drinking “bug juice” with friends.

Buddy McElhannon


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *