he five days that The Moving Wall, a replica of the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was in Washington at the Fairgorunds was a great history lesson about the war, which began with the first American military casualties in the late 1950s, and ended in 1975. Thousands of people visited The Moving Wall and many were youngsters, who, probably for the first time, learned something about that war. The other displays added to the event.
Many veterans of other wars this country has been engaged in, and still is, viewed The Moving Wall. It brought back memories — some good, some not so good. It was a period here of great respect shown to our veterans.
The committee that was responsible for bringing The Moving Wall here did an outstanding job. It was well organized each day. Planning had been in progress for more than a year. The cost was high — more $20,000. It appears that enough money may have been raised to cover the cost. There were many sponsors.
he main speakers each day delivered moving talks filled with their experiences in the war, and their visits to Vietnam after the war. The program each day was outstanding.
The two co-chairmen, Ray Ganz and Terry Sullentrup, provided excellent leadership, and they were aided by a large number of volunteers, many of them veterans, and members of families of veterans. Others were just patriotic Americans from this area. It was an amazing outpouring of cooperation and volunteerism. Area veterans’ organization were co-oponsors and provided valuable assistance.
The city of Washington and its parks department went all the way in cooperating for the event. The Fairgrounds was an excellent venue. An asphalt walkway was provided in front of the Wall — 254 feet in length.
The fact that it was free for the public to view was a great gesture.. Not everybody “signed in,” but it is safe to say the Wall was viewed by thousands of people.
t the Wall Sunday we talked to Roy Bowen, Villa Ridge, a Vietnam veteran, who served there in 1967-68. He was in the field artillery. He
said the Wall was “a good rememberance.” He might be called a typical Vietnam veteran. Since it was an unpopular war, caused greatly by the draft, which was unfair, and protests against it, the Vietnam veterans were treated with disrespect when they came home.
“We (the troops) felt the war was justified at that time. They should have let us win the war. The way we were treated when we came home is what really hurt,” Bowen said. He added that The Moving Wall has helped to mend that hurt. Roy is a member of The American Legion, Post 565, at Labadie.
This editor/veteran regrets he did not do more to show gratitude when the Vietnam veterans came home. We played a part in that “hurt” for not doing more to welcome home the Vietnam veterans and thanking them for their service. As a combat veteran of the Korean War, we apologize to all Vietnam veterans. The Korean War veterans know what it was like to be ignored when they arrived home. But they didn’t spit on us!