I went recently for the second time. This time, it wasn't the obvious engraved names that caught my attention. This time, it was me and the trees.
If you ever get another chance to visit, try for a minute to shift your attention from the detail to the big picture. I got a chance to step back and look at the enormity of the work. Standing there, I felt the monument's designers tap me on the shoulder, (or maybe slap me upside the head) and show me their message. There, the names blended into the background of shiny black granite. Standing on the vein of black stone that snakes through the center of the walkway I was too far away to see each individual name. What I did see, quite perfectly, was my own reflection, set against the sea of names of the lost.
Then, I looked further down the wall, past the bend of the black granite. The reflection of the trunks of the trees behind me on the wall seemed to line up perfectly with the crowns of the trees in the distance. One set of trees links up with another set of trees through a monument to the fallen in a misunderstood war.
They tell me my ability to stand here and think about this is due in part to the sacrifice of the fallen. They may be right. But standing here today, I can’t help but think that the monument designers were trying to tell me and posterity that making sure we don't need any more poignant war memorials begins with me.