Kids Climb All Over Vietnam War Memorial & Parents Think It's Funny

kids climb on war memorialPhotos have surfaced of kids joyfully playing on the Vietnam Women's Memorial at the National Mall in Washington D.C. The memorial is of a wounded hero, and is not meant to be something for kids or anyone to be climbing on. It was reported that the parents were laughing at the kids and others visiting the memorial, including a Veteran, seemed hurt by the kids being disrespectful. To me, this should turn into a lesson in learning instead of anger or punishment. 

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I think we can all agree that the sight of kids playing with all their innocence and happiness is a beautiful thing. Parks and playgrounds all over the world feature statues that are things to climb. So a child climbing this memorial is doing so out of fun, without knowing it can be hurtful and disrespectful.

These children should not be punished or disrespected for playing. We can use this as a lesson -- it can be turned into a positive teaching experience. And this goes for the parents, too.

It was said that the parents encouraged the kids, even laughed as they climbed the memorial. One man there took photos and captured the image of the children playing while others there looked hurt or upset about what was happening.

It's a powerful image. A juxtaposition of children who do not know the perils of war innocently playing, and adults who know, who may have even been in battle, who may have watched friends die, who firsthand experienced the horrors of conflict. The emotions of both sides are valid. And it should be with a kind heart that we understand each other.

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These children do not deserve punishment. In order to teach them about respect, we have to show respect. We have to understand that a child doesn't know what an adult knows, and that is why we teach. This moment could have turned into something extremely powerful beyond just an image that hurts. And it's not too late. This can happen right now. Sometimes people just don't know things. Perhaps the parents didn't realize how hurtful this was. Instead of banishing people or being angry and spreading words of hate, let's educate. We can all come together here. 

Veterans could share some heroic stories to get the kids and parents interested. Instead of yelling at a child for climbing on something he shouldn't be climbing on, we can try redirecting. Ask them to come down, start talking to them, engaging them in conversation about how special the memorial is and what it means in way that a child can understand. And then, with peace in your voice and heart, explain why it's not something that should be climbed on. If the mother encouraged the kids, this same tactic would work well. Kindness goes deeper than anger; kindness has the ability to make changes while anger just serves to further upset and divide. 

How do you think this situation should be handled?


Image via MatthewM. Art/Facebook

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