Forty student from Jose E. Malave’s English Language Development and exploratory Spanish classes visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica that made a few-day stop in the Santa Clarita Valley last month.
As a Marine and Persian Gulf War veteran, Malavé didn’t want this event to go unnoticed by his students. He used literacy as the stepping stone to make his students aware of this memorial.
Students read the book “The Wall” by Eve Bunting while others read the novel “Search and Destroy” by Dean Hughes during sustained silent reading time in class.
They discussed the pros and cons of the Vietnam War. Students immersed themselves into the facts and consequences. They also became aware of other conflicts in which the United States was involved.
One of Malave’s students in particular had a unique experience due to having a family member’s name on The Wall whom she never met.
“Mr. Malave, here is a picture of me at the Vietnam Wall. I am standing next to my grandma’s cousin’s name, Ronald W. Dodge. I am holding a Life magazine where he is on the cover. His death was on May 17, 1967, but his body was not returned until 1981. The only way he was identified was through his dental records. The Vietnamese claimed to have never seen him, but a French journalist took the picture and submitted it to Life magazine. This was the first time I had seen it, and it was even cooler getting to see him on the cover of the magazine my mom showed me. At the same time, though, it makes me sad to think of all those people who died for our freedom. It makes me so thankful, too,” seventh grader Brooke Milam said.
A collage was created by the La Mesa students, their families, and staff who went to see the replica of The Wall at the Valencia Westfield Town Center and voluntarily submitted their pictures for this activity.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring those who died in the Vietnam War. The Wall is now also a place of healing for those affected by one of the most divisive wars in our nation’s history.