Welcome home vets
The Moving Wall Vietnam veterans memorial is back
August 15, 2007LAPEER — Organizers of the Aug. 16-19 visit of the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall are hoping local residents will turn out en masse to honor the 58,000 Americans whose names are etched into the memorial.
The Moving Wall, a half-scale model of the actual granite memorial in Washington D.C., is expected to arrive in Lapeer today, Wed., Aug. 15, sometime in the afternoon. Members of the Lapeer HOG chapter are providing an escort.
The memorial will be assembled by volunteers at 10 a.m. on Thursday on the grounds of Lapeer American Legion Post #16, located on M-21, west of M-24.
Glenn Ream, president of Lapeer County Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 287 and adjutant at Post #16, acknowledges the many volunteers, businesses and organizations who have donated to the project.
"We appreciate all of the support we've gotten from the community," said Ream. "A project like this takes a lot of work, money and volunteers.
"We just hope that a lot of people—especially parents, grandparents and kids—come out to see the memorial. It's important that we don't forget the price so many have paid."
Opening ceremonies for The Moving Wall begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 16. The names of the 20 servicemen of Lapeer County that paid the ultimate sacrifice will be read. After the last of the names are read, 20 doves will be released in their honor. Ten more doves will be released for the POW/MIAs. Organizers encourage family and or friends of the honored servicemen to attend the ceremony.
The opening event will also include musical performances and several speeches, including one by keynote speaker, Jerry Newberry.
Newberry, a former Lapeer VVA Chapter president, is currently the National Communications Director for the VFW in Kansas City.
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Also scheduled to speak is Art Whelan, post commander at American Legion Post # 16. Whelan said he and his fellow American Legion members are honored to host the memorial.
"We are very proud to have The Moving Wall come here," Whelan said. "We feel a strong kinship with our Vietnam veterans. This is an opportunity for all of us to remind ourselves of their sacrifices."
While the memorial dedicated to Vietnam has particular meaning for him, Whelan feels all veterans are deserving of thanks for their service.
"I have a cousin whose name is on that wall," he said. "That makes it very personal for me and my family. I would encourage everyone to come out at least once while it is here in Lapeer. We owe that debt to the people whose names are on that memorial."
The traveling memorial will be available for public viewing around the clock during its stay in Lapeer, which ends with a closing ceremony on Sun., Aug. 19 at 2 p.m.
One of the featured exhibits is the nationally-recognized "Quilt of Tears," a tribute to servicemen and women, living and dead, who were exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals during the Vietnam War.
Also featured during the week will be LZ Aerial, a series of photographic images taken documenting the Vietnam War.