The black granite wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington rises and falls with a grassy hill. From behind, you would not know it's there. Facing it, you see nothing but thousands of names etched in this massive but subtle monument.

There are no statues of soldiers holding their weapons triumphantly. There are no flags except the little ones left by visitors at the base of the wall. They are among the items left there daily as memorials and tributes to the 58,235 who were killed or are missing in action.

Delmar Wayne Probst is among those names. He died March 8, 1968. He was the older brother of Marlene, a girl in my sixth-grade class. I still vividly recall the sadness that surrounded the news of his death. The 23-year-old had been in the Army for about two years when he was killed in Thua Thien.

They were the children of the priest at the Episcopal church in the quiet, staid suburb where I grew up. Vietnam, which seemed so distant from our lives as 12-year-olds, suddenly was too close.

Seeing Probst's name on a recent visit to the memorial took me back to those fearful and tumultuous times. My brother was in the Air Force and stationed at Offutt in Omaha. He never went to Vietnam, but my cousin was in the Army and badly injured there. He is disabled to this day.

I think the Vietnam Memorial is the most popular monument in Washington for a good reason: It makes no statement about the war that caused so much division in our country, and it allows visitors a feeling of intimacy because of its design.

While visiting what some call simply the "wall," I saw several men and women wiping tears from their eyes. It's not an uncommon sight. Books on both ends of the memorial allow you to look up names so you can find their location. Many people make rubbings of the names on paper.

Nearby is a conventional monument of three soldiers from the Vietnam era, but it lacks the emotional engagement of the wall.

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Jim Bishop, the golf pro at the Country Club of Columbus (Ga.), will be the golf pro at the new Kinderlou Forest golf course being built by the Langdale Company in south Lowndes County.

Bishop will start working Aug. 11, Andres Villegas, marketing manager of the Langdale Company, said Thursday, even though the grand opening is not until next April. A soft opening will be held this fall. Villegas, who hails from Athens, Ga., compared the hilly terrain for the new Davis Love III-designed course to the area around Athens. "It's not what you'd expect in South Georgia," he told members of the Azalea City Kiwanis Club.

Elevations in the golf course community range from 140 to 220 feet above sea level, creating a varying course. Villegas described the front nine of the 18-hole course as "real open," and the back nine as "tight" with many woods.

The courses are already sodded, and construction of the clubhouse has begun.

Villegas presented a program on the overall development with Santiago Iturralde, one of the architects working for the Langdale Company.

Ron Wayne is the editor of The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at 244-3400, ext. 229, or e-mailed at ron.wayne@gaflnews.com.

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