KALKASKA COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) — A traveling memorial has once again made a stop in northern Michigan as a way to honor the service and sacrifice of Vietnam veterans.
The Moving Wall is a smaller replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. It makes stops all across the country so veterans and others who are unable to make it to D.C. have an opportunity to recognize the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
An escort of nearly 100 motorcycles and law enforcement followed The Moving Wall Memorial throughout communities in Kalkaska County.
Right now it can be seen at the Kalkaska Fairgrounds.
Many watching the escort and memorial pass through say they appreciate the significance of a symbol of history traveling through their town.
Students from Fife Lake Elementary were some of the thousands of people viewing the memorial and procession as it passed through.
“We enjoyed the motorcycles and the wall coming through,” said Principal Josh Rothwell. “But now our teachers can come back and reflect with the kids on the historical perspective and why we have the wall and the sacrifices that were given.”
Organizers with the Michigan Heritage and Research Foundation say this was a honor to have in northern Michigan since it’s the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. It was declared the 50th anniversary after the most significant amount of lives lost in the war occurred during 1968.
“This will be our third time hosting the wall, we hosted in 2004, 2008 and now 2018,” David Israel, the Chairman of the Michigan Heritage and Research Foundation said.
The Kalkaska County Sheriff, Patrick Whiteford said it was a community effort to be able to bring The Moving Wall to the area.
“It’s a great community event and we love to support our veterans and it was great way to show it,” Whiteford said. “I hope everyone comes out throughout the weekend and see some of the programs and pay their respects to the veterans and see what the wall is all about.”
The names of more than 50,000 soldiers who died in the Vietnam War are etched on the wall. For many, its a vivid memory of a loved one.
“My son was killed in Vietnam,” said Jerry Thornell, a 92-year-old mother who traveled from Traverse City to see the wall. “He was my only boy, and he was just 18 when he was killed so it’s kind of hard.”
The memorial is open to the public Thursday evening through May 21st. A formal opening ceremony is set for Friday at 6:00 PM.
The 126th U.S. Army Band will play Saturday at 6:00 PM during a ceremony. Congressman Jack Bergman will be the guest speaker. A closing ceremony is scheduled for Sunday at 2:00 PM.
“Some people can’t make the trip to Washington so they can come here and see the wall and maybe see the names of comrades they may have lost,” Israel said.
The Moving Wall was dedicated in 1984; The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was dedicated in D.C. in 1982.