Organizers were “overwhelmed” by the Washington and surrounding communities’ response to The Moving Wall exhibit, which was on display at the Washington Fairgrounds Sept. 19-23.
Terry Sullentrup, event co-chair, said the Friends of Vietnam Veterans Committee, which organized the event, was very pleased with the turnout.
He and Ray Ganz, event co-chair, estimated that some 10,000 people visited the event during the five-day period.
There were 20 committee members and more than 250 volunteers for the event, which was open 24 hours per day during its time here.
“The event itself was outstanding,” Ganz said. “Everybody who touched, attended and spoke was superb.”
Sullentrup said everyone who visited The Moving Wall was pleased with the exhibit.
Sullentrup and Ganz credited the committee with making the event a success, as well as area businesses, veterans, city departments, families and others.
They thanked the cities of Washington, Union, Pacific, New Haven, Warrenton, Wentzville, Villa Ridge and others who helped with the event, calling it a “total team effort.”
There also were monetary and in-kind sponsors.
“We thank them more than anything we can ever say,” Sullentrup said.
Two things stood out for Sullentrup.
On Friday morning, at about 3, it was pouring down rain, Sullentrup said.
“There was one Vietnam veteran standing out at the Wall with his umbrella, reaching out to the Wall — touching his brothers who are not here,” he said.
The second was an individual who emotionally could not bring himself to visit the Wall prior to the Washington event.
“Through the assistance of other Vietnam veterans, he was able to reach out and touch the Wall,” Sullentrup said. “Tears just poured out.”
The man brought his son back the following day to see the Wall.
Sullentrup was proud that several area schools brought students and many parents brought children over the weekend.
“I think they all walked away with a different understanding. A lot of them didn’t know what Vietnam was and what the Vietnam War was about until they (visited the Wall),” he said.
Sullentrup said each speaker was moving and provided a certain sense of healing for Vietnam veterans.
“Our emphasis has always been on those who did serve and those who are not here with us who served as well,” Sullentrup said.