Cheney Free Press -

By Lee Hughes
Staff reporter 

The Moving Wall a moving addition to Medical Lake's Founders Day - The year in review - top 10

2019 Top 10 ­– No. 3

 

Last updated 12/28/2019 at 7:45am

Lee Hughes

The Moving Wall's panels not only contain the names of the 58,318 American service members killed in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, but reflects a ghostly image of those who come to view their names, in a way merging the living with those who died sacrificing their lives for their freedom.

MEDICAL LAKE - There was no shortage of visitors to Medical Lake in June along the reflective black wall engraved with the names of the 58,318 Americans who didn't make it home alive from the Vietnam War.

Brought to the city in conjunction with the annual Founders Day celebration by Re*Imagine Medical Lake, The Moving Wall, a half-scale model of the actual monument in Washington D.C., brought thousands to the city under the hot June sun.

Volunteers spent the morning of the wall's arrival, via an escort of motorcycles and law enforcement, carefully piecing together the Wall's panels prior to an opening ceremony attended by about 450 people.

"Once the panels come out, this place becomes hallowed ground," Paul Chen, The Moving Wall caretaker, told volunteers.

Three solemn ceremonies were held during the Wall's visit, including a flyover by a KC-135 refueling tanker from the 93rd Air Refueling Wing at FAFB.

Like the people whose names are on the wall, people of all ages, races and social perspectives visited the wall and attended the ceremonies.

Speakers shared their own tales of grief and loss, and the underlying cost of the Vietnam War and wars in general.

Several local dignitaries spoke at the ceremonies.

Medical Lake's Wayne Terry, a retired Chief Master Sgt. and 39-year U.S. Air National Guard veteran who served as master of ceremonies at one event, spoke emotionally of the sudden reality of the war's cost when he was informed that classmates had been killed in Vietnam.

Re*Imagine Medical Lake's Terri Cooper shared how her father, a decorated helicopter air rescue airman who served two tours in Vietnam, returned a changed, troubled man who never discussed his war experiences.

"The alcoholism and behaviors that followed were the common denominator among my military friends," Cooper said.

Col. Larry Gardener, commander of the Washington Air National Guard's 141st Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild Air Force Base discussed the effects of war on combat veterans, noting the welcome he received when arriving home from deployment in the Middle East as far different from that of men like his own father, a two-tour Vietnam veteran.

Such men were often maligned and ridiculed on their return rather than welcomed home.

"The effects of (post traumatic stress disorder), traumas of war and separation, the struggles and inabilities to reintegrate into ... society after being traumatically exposed to the stresses of combat - those haven't changed and never will," Gardner said.

Lee Hughes can be reached at lee@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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