WASHINGTON — A photo that shows children climbing on the Vietnam Women’s Memorial has gone viral.
The nation’s capital has many sites that honor the service and sacrifice made by those who served our country. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated to the women of the United States who served in the Vietnam War, most of whom were nurses.
Matthew Munson was visiting the memorial when some parents encouraged their children to climb on the memorial for a picture.
“There wasn’t a lot of people at this point,” Munson said. “Then a big group of people showed up just as the kids were treating the memorial more like a jungle gym and the parents were laughing. Then the veterans showed up, and they looked hurt more than angry. They were quiet.
“That’s when I noticed a big group around the parents glaring at them, the pressure was intense and the kids blissfully ignorant. That’s when I snapped the picture. I tried getting a good shot of the crowd and the parents too but no luck. Kids jumped down and skittered off with their parents.
The photo sparked a debate on Reddit about how children should act around memorials.
Munson told WHNT:
“At this point I lean more towards the parents being disrespectful. Certain memorials and statues are more positive and welcoming to kids and parents expressing their freedom and good vibes, other memorials (this one) focuses on the tragedies of war and how certain groups of people played a big role in helping others recover from it.
“Having children step all over a wounded warrior is not an appropriate way to express the freedom our veterans fought for, in my opinion. I think the parents should have explained to their kids the meaning of the memorial and the heroics of women involved in the crisis, and save the climbing and playing for a jungle gym.”
Munson said people who feel it is disrespectful shouldn’t blame the children, though.
“I feel like the parents should be ashamed, and anyone that tries to blame the kids are wrong in doing so. If you look at the hurt veterans, they are looking past the kids and towards the parents that are out of the frame.”