Vietnam wall replica travels to Audubon
They were the soldiers who were spit on. They were the ones that saw and endured some of the most horrific experiences of war imaginable while fighting for a country they loved -- even when they weren't always being loved back.
Now, soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War are being remembered locally as a moving memorial rolls through Audubon.
The Moving Wall is a portable replica of the memorial wall in Washington, D.C., that holds the names of the Americans killed in action or are still to this day considered POWs and MIA.
The Moving Wall is being brought in by the Agassiz Chapter of Wind & Fire Motorcycle Club in Audubon.
"We're a Harley-riding, fire fighter's club," said Chapter President John Ronning, who says the organization sponsors a charity or community event ever year. This year, it's the wall.
"Several of our guys are National Guardsmen, so it's kind of a natural fit," said Ronning. "There are so many people who will never make it to D.C. to see the real one, but a lot of people who would want to."
Ronning says the Moving Wall, which is transported all over the country by military veterans, typically attracts people from about a 60-mile radius.
"Nearly everybody has a friend or relative or loved one who went to Vietnam and happily came back or was lost there, so there's a lot of personal connection to the wall," said Ronning, adding that the memorial is a good way to educate children on what happened.
"Maybe grandpa's name is on there or grandpa's friends..." said Ronning. "Sadly at the time when the guys came home they didn't see the support of the country like the Iraqi veterans receive now, and it's a deal where hopefully we're making up for lost time and get a chance to thank these guys who didn't get thanked in the first place."
A little over half the size of the Washington, D.C., memorial, the 254-feet long, six-feet high moving wall is made out of brushed aluminum with a special black coating made to look like the granite panels of the real thing.
Etched into the wall are 58,272 names, most of which were killed in action. One thousand three hundred of them are listed as POWs and MIA. There are eight women on the wall and 16 chaplains.
"It'll be open 24-hours a day, manned with people to assist with finding names and anything the public may need," said Ronning.
The Wall, which is free and open to the public, will be set up by around noon on Sept. 20 and will be taken down on Sept. 24 by 4 p.m.
It will be located at the Audubon City Park on Falcon Street.
A grand opening ceremony will take place on Saturday, Sept 22, at 10 a.m.
The Lakes Area Veterans Color Guard will do an invocation and presentation of colors, taps and a 21-gun salute.
Former Lake Park-Audubon teacher, wrestling coach and Vietnam Veteran Terry Teiken is speaking at the event.
To find out more, call John Ronning at 218-770-2463.