Recently I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to honor my husband, Capt. James Eddie Reed, and his men who were killed in action during the Tet offensive in 1968 while serving with the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta.

While there I encountered several groups of students enjoying outings. Their disrespectful behavior (loud talking, game playing, running and other disruptions) was, to say the least, inappropriate. Such actions create a tremendous burden for the many compassionate park service employees and volunteers who strive diligently to assist and comfort families and friends of those who honored this nation with their lives.

The memorial represents the healing of our country and is for each individual who has suffered a tremendous personal loss. At long last we have a place to pay our respects, to find peace, to honor those brave men and women. The memorial should be accorded the same respect due the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. The Vietnam memorial is where we have symbolically buried our war dead. It is there that they stand as one.

The time is at hand for all Americans, young and old, to understand fully the tremendous price paid for the Vietnam conflict. It is our individual responsibility as friends, family, teachers and citizens to educate our young people about that conflict. A visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial should be a meaningful experience.

A legacy of peace and understanding is the greatest honor one can bestow on a Vietnam veteran.

BRENDA REED

Oakland, Calif.