The Moving Wall Comes to Bethel
Bethel is proudly hosting The Moving Wall for the next five days. For those of you unfamiliar with it, The Moving Wall is a traveling half-sized replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. It was created in 1984, as a means of sharing the incredibly moving experience of the Memorial with people throughout our nation who may never travel to the nation's capital to see this amazing monument to the men and women who died in the Vietnam War.
Bringing The Wall to Bethel was particularly challenging, since it had to come by air freight. A hardworking group of Bethel residents began the planning for this event months ago; the VFW and the American Legion were instrumental in bringing it about. The Wall only arrived this morning, hours before the opening ceremonies.
Despite cold, cloudy weather, a good-sized crowd came out for the opening ceremonies, which were very nice. A color guard from the Bethel JROTC presented the American flag and the Alaska state flag, and the veteran's groups raised the POW/MIA flag and a flag honoring Those Who Serve.
The national anthem and America The Beautiful were sung a capella by two young women, and the Alaska state song was sung in Yupik by a group of young Eskimo women in traditional dress. The chilliness of the day made me wish I had on fur mukluks like theirs!
There was an invocation by the Catholic priest, a proclamation read by Bethel's mayor, and several local dignitaries who spoke of the contributions made by Alaskans in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the war in Iraq.
Bethel's veterans were recognized by service and asked to stand for applause. Dutch was among these, as a retired Captain of the US Coast Guard (that's an O6, for you military-savvy types). He was asked to stand a second time as a department head for Bethel city government who was a member of the committee to bring The Moving Wall to Bethel. I was very proud of him!
The main guest speaker for the event was former governor and Vietnam veteran Tony Knowles. He spoke of the incredible impact of the war on the American psyche, the difficulty of returning service people to a country who opposed the war they had fought, and the anguish of families who lost children to the war with no sense that the country valued that sacrifice. He spoke of the Memorial as the avenue of healing for a generation torn apart by that war.
PHOTO OF THE MOVING WALL
SHOULD GO HERE
BLOGGER REFUSED TO LOAD IT
SEE POST ABOVE
I have visited the Memorial in Washington, D.C., and it is an incredible experience. It is powerful, and deeply touching, though I did not personally know anyone who fought in Viet Nam. The Memorial is something every American should visit if they have the opportunity; for those who can't get to our nation's capital, The Moving Wall is a good second best. It does not have the devastating impact of the original, but nothing could. It comes close enough. When it comes to your community, make an effort to go and see it. It really is important. The healing of our nation over this war continues thirty years after it ended, and will for many years to come. We are each one a part of that.
Labels: Life in Bethel