My Memorial

Posted by on May 26, 2014 in My Work | 28 comments

Today is Memorial Day, and I have someone to remember. His name is Roger Cobb Hallberg, and his name was on the POW bracelet I wore as a teenager. While I was dating and going to Disneyland, he was fighting, and then disappearing, in the jungle maze of Vietnam. A brave young newlywed just vanished.

For years I waited and watched lists of returning vets to see his name. Twice I have visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. At the long black wall I find his name and see his status. MIA. He is one of 1643 soldiers still unaccounted for in that conflict (this number has gone down, thankfully, the years I have been posting this). Imagine the families living with that.

I have kept the bracelet all these years, and have long wanted to do something to honor Roger. Then Kim Rae Nugent  asked me to contribute to her book and one of the projects was working with a maze. The idea came to me right away. What was more a maze than Vietnam?

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The book is a box, a sort of temple covered with papers I painted. It is intended to look geographic and cosmic, as he is somewhere, we just don’t know exactly where.

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Inside are five panels. The US flag is overlaid with a map of Vietnam on the first. The second is Roger’s name on the wall in D.C. The third is a map of approximately where he went missing. The fourth is my bracelet with his name on it, and two stories. The top story is the military account of Roger’s last known day. The bottom story is what I was likely doing that day, when Roger disappeared protecting his men. Â

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In the center is Roger Cobb Hallberg and his military biographical information. The helicopter is like the one that came to rescue him, and did not find him.

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I remembered Roger yesterday, and today, and I will tomorrow. My dream would be that somehow every single MIA is accounted for. Every single one.

You can help fund this search by contributing to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

 

28 Comments

  1. This is an awesome memorial! Absolutely wonderful.

    I, too, wore one of those bracelets – through my college years, though I’ve long since misplaced it. Thank you for continuing to remember your POW. Hopefully, one day there will be answers for all of our MIA/POW’s.

  2. A thoughtful and moving piece Jill. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks Jill.

  4. Jill, what a rich piece. Thank you for bringing it to life.

  5. The name my bracelet was one of the fortunate ones to return ALIVE – he was a POW instead of yours an MIA. I still have my bracelet anyway as a reminder. I think the family of your soldier would be proud to see how you have honored him.

  6. Hi Jill, What a thoughtful tribute to a soldier MIA. Very moving piece. Thank you for posting. It’s just beautiful.

  7. Jill–I think you should send your comments and pictures to his family. It’s a wonderful tribute to him

  8. I am speachless and very touched with your art. So many of our young men left behind and so many not forgotten. So many returning not appreciated or thanked for their service to our nation.

    Thank you for sharing your art.

    Blessings,

    Kat

  9. I SO remember those bracelets! I never had one but so many of friends in high school had them (I graduated in 1977).

    Your tribute to Sgt Hallberg is just absolustely gorgeous. You just did such a great job…thank you for sharing…your compassion and eloquence are so inspiring.

  10. I am so touched with your memory of this young man.. so many were lost in that war, as I am sure in a lot of the wars.. My brother-in-law went down at sea and his family only have their memories of this young man who died for the freedom of our country…
    Those men make me so proud of be a American and stand up for the values of this great country!

  11. What a wonderful tribute to the man who may never come home! I too, like most in school at the time, worn one of those bracelets, unfortunately I have misplaced mine along the way..now I wish I had held onto it to see if I could have learned more about him and if he was ever found. Blessings to you Jill!

  12. Great job Jill, very poignant. One of my best friends lost her brother in Vietnam and we think of him often.

  13. This means so much to my entire family. Our brother is S/Sgt Roger C. Hallberg. We are moved beyond words by the beauty of your art and the essence you captured of our brother. It is hard to explain to you through my tears how much it means and touched my heart that you cared enough about our brother to create such an amazing tribute. We are so proud of our Brother Roger and we are so proud that the bracelet you wore was my brothers. As a family member I just thought everyone had forgot the POW & MIA’s and just swept the VN conflict under the rug. My brother Bruce and I are very active in the MIA issue and will never give up trying to find out what happened to Roger and all our brave American soldiers. We feel the war in VN is really not over until all Americans are returned. Our mother is still alive and saw your beautiful tribute and with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes she just stared at the pictures and held them close to her heart. She was visible moved by the beauty of your tribute. As I said words can not due justice to how your art touched us. Thank you from the bottom of the Hallberg family’s heart.

  14. Dearest Anne,
    I cannot tell you what this means to me, to connect with you after all these years. I have had a connection with Roger for nearly 40 years, and have done everything I have done for veterans of Vietnam because of him.

    Not knowing what has happened to a loved one is the cruelest place to be, and I do not know how all of you have endured it. My art piece was meant to give him a place to be, where we can find him.
    I am so, so glad that you see this, the effort that I made to honor him. It means the world to me. Artists often wonder “why am I doing this?”. This is why.
    My very best to you and your family, to the efforts that all families make to account for their loved ones. My greatest wish is that you are able to find the rest of Roger’s story. And if you do, please let me know. It will be a very happy day for me too.
    Love to all the Hallbergs,
    Jill

  15. there are no words that can be written that could possible come close to capturing the compassion, dedication and loyalty you created for Roger and his family. Namaste.

  16. You are truly an angel sent to help the Hallberg family with their lifelong grief for Roger. What a lovely thing for all of you! Did you say you were going to meet them?
    You’re the best Jill!
    Ellen

  17. I remember watching so many young soldiers leave for VN while I was still in high school. They were so young and so brave. The tribute you have created is so lovely and meaningful. Thank you for continuing to care when so many others have seemingly forgotten.

  18. Jill, I have attached an article that you may be interested in. I wish that our family had known of you so we could have invited you to share in this very proud day with us.It warms my heart to know people such as yourself still care about Roger and the MIA’s. They are not forgotten.

    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?132773-Special-Forces-MIA-awarded-Silver-Star

  19. I’m speechless with admiration, for you, Jill, as a sensitive, thoughtful artist, and for the Hallberg family and what they’ve gone through, and how they continue to fight.

  20. Yes it is important to map our personal-geographies! It is wonderful when all the stars align!
    Hugs,
    Kim

  21. I also wore a bracelet with Rogers name on it and I still have it. I think of him often. I pray someday they will bring him home. Thank you for the tribute.

  22. Dear Jill,
    A wonderful tribute to Roger that shows how your lovely spirit flows, and continues to grow in strength and maturity with all that guiding love.
    Love to you and yours,
    Pat & John

  23. Jill I also have the same bracelet I wore it during junior high. My uncle gave it to me, he also a Vietnam vet. I asked him what it was he was wearing and he told me. Roger Hallenberg to me is a hero who cannot be forgotten, that is why I still keep the bracelet.

  24. Scott, there are a number of us out there who still have Roger’s bracelet, I am so glad to connect with you! His family is dedicated to finding out exactly what happened to him, they are very involved in the POW and MIA effort. I expect to hear from them when they do and I will post it here so all of us who hold Roger in our hearts will know. Thank you for coming by.

  25. How ironic that I should find your art work today and read this fascinating story. I also attended the production yesterday of “A Piece of my heart” that is all about the women who served in Vietnam. It was the most moving experience I have had in a long time. The piece of art you did in honor of Roger Hallberg is is amazing and also inspirational to me, a struggling artist. Thank you.

  26. Jerry, this is how like souls connect! Thank you for stopping by, and the very best to you on your artful future!

  27. Hi Jill – catching up with some of my favorite blogs (followed your FB link). Your tribute art touched me in so many ways (and Roger’s sister Anne’s reply. Thanks for sharing.

    Next time you’re going to be in PDX let me know – I’m taking you out for a drink!
    Warm regards, Maude

  28. I too have Sgt. Roger Hallberg’s MIA bracelet and have worn it for more than forty years. I received his bracelet while we were stationed at Clark AFB, Philippines and I was always under the impression that I was the only one wearing his bracelet. I have just found out about what happened to him in Vietnam and his valor thus receiving the Silver Star. I am so very proud of him and pray that the family get him home soon. My son presented his story and the bracelet in his high school history class last week. The kids never had seen a POW/MIA bracelet before and have no idea that so many soldiers are MIA status. Your art is touching. Thank-you

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  1. This Week at My House : Jill Berry Blog - [...] my book. The highlight of the week was connecting with the Hallberg Family. You can read that story here. …

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