George Shean


As, if in a dream,
I watched, as men died around me,
The glare of machine gun fire . . . lighting up the night,
I myself, laying in a pool of my own blood,
Forever lost . . . that of youth,
Unbeknownst to the hardships that lay before me,
I struggle . . . to this day,
As then,
To survive.

I am a combat soldier. On October 25th,1969, while on a Rhone plow mission in an area near Saigon 4 of my men and I were attacked by North Vietnamese Soldiers along the Ho Chi Minh trail. I was severely wounded. And due to the nature of the severe head wound I suffered I actually died for 4 ˝ minutes on the operating table. Before this I was not an artist or poet.

Later, I used my Veterans Administration Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits to go to college in Boston. My major was Fine Arts. After I graduated from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts I was contacted by the Massachusetts Viet Nam Veterans Association. At the time and still to this day I do not know how they knew of me. I did not belong to any area service organizations.

I was given 2 weeks to conceptualize the piece and mount it before the presentation to the Speaker of the House The Honorable Thomas “Tip” O’Neal, Jr. in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. on May 14th,1985. I also copied and rendered the three (3) combat soldiers to the specifications of 18x24 square that was used on the back of the booklet cover by Frederick Hart. The bronze sculpture is adjacent to the Wall Memorial.

Later suffering from acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder I retreated to my family’s camp on St. Froid Lake in northern Maine. During this period, my sculpture and the Traveling Wall went on national tour to all 50 state capitals. I had no idea concerning this having happened. I found out a few years later thru an introduction that it had occurred and that the person I was being introduced too recognized my name.

The Sculpture, the second in United States History is now on display at Boston College Newton, Massachusetts along with auto grafted photographs from the Speaker, my Purple Heart and a letter from then Vice-President Albert Gore.