Redwood Falls Gazette
  • TROY'S COLUMN — A wall that offers a sense of unity

  • When walls are erected they are typically not intended to unite people, but one wall found in the area recently did that very thing....
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  • Walls are built to divide – to keep things separated. When walls are erected they are typically not intended to unite people, but one wall found in the area recently did that very thing. It’s called the Vietnam Memorial Wall, and the traveling display was recently on exhibit in the City of Marshall. The wall, which travels across the United States is 288 feet in length and six feet tall in the middle. From one end of the wall to the other it is covered with names – 58,000 to be exact. Each name is more than just a name, it is the story of a life cut short during the Vietnam War. Every name is a loved one lost – sacrificed on the battlefield. I have seen the traveling wall before this past Friday when I and other members of the Krause clan made a trip to Marshall to take in the experience. It was set up in Tracy several years ago, and I had the privilege of experiencing the wall for the first time then. Talk about a moving experience. I have also had the honor of seeing the Vietnam wall in Washington, D.C. during a trip I made to our nation’s capital a few years ago. Despite seeing this wall on three separate occasions, each time I walk up and start looking at the names a sense of the reality of life and death hits me. It’s not the kind of feeling I enjoy, and honestly I am not sure anyone who sees the wall really looks forward to it. It is a somber occasion as those names are taken in, and I want to compliment those who helped coordinate bringing the wall to our area again. I think what surprised me the most about being at the ceremony held Friday night was when the list of names from the area was read. I had no idea just how many people from the area actually died during this war. There were people from Wabasso, Wanda, Belview, Redwood Falls, Lamberton, Springfield and other area communities named. Some of the names were familiar to me, as I remember briefly hearing the story of Brad Mace and of William Cook, but there are so many others I do not know and had not heard of prior to Friday. I think it is our responsibility to learn more about these people and the sacrifice they made for us, and I want to encourage you to discover what you can about those from the Vietnam War, as well as other wars, who died for our benefit. We have all heard the stories of the soldiers who returned from Vietnam to a nation that did not welcome them. Calling them baby killers and worse, they did not return to ticker tape parades. (Does anyone else find it extremely ironic that those who called our Vietnam soldiers, airmen and sailors baby killers are also the ones who found abortion acceptable at the same time?)  So, when I attend an event like this ceremony I intentionally seek out a Vietnam veteran to shake their hand and express my appreciation for their service. I offer a simple “thank you,” and I see in so many eyes the pain they have buried. To each of you who served during the Vietnam War I express my thanks for your service, and to all of the families who paid the price by giving one of their loved ones I express my deepest sympathies. Most of the Vietnam War was fought before I was even born, but I have learned enough to know what those who served experienced was something horrible I could never have handled, and they deserve our thanks.
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