I would like to take some time to pay homage to the hard work that Dana Evans and David Brown and the many volunteers who will make this event possible. Their dedication and hard work will come to fruition this week. I'd like to think that this event is for everyone.
I've known from experience that the Vietnam War is still a very emotional issue for a cross section of people, whether you were against the war or not. It seems that all it takes to offend someone is to be on one side or the other. The "my way or the highway" attitude does not serve anyone who is not a child. I've met all kinds of Vietnam Vets during my life; some of those vets wear their hearts on their sleeves that they proudly served.
There are other veterans who I've worked next to for years before they mentioned that they have served during the Vietnam War, not that they were ashamed of serving, but that was in the past for them and that was that.
There was a stereotype of a Vietnam vet while I was growing up of an angry, bitter person who did not receive the glory of victory that their fathers had in previous conflicts. I attribute that to ignorance and the fact that there were many movies made about a certain moment in time that people might think was actual history.
But like all stereotypes, if you take the time to talk to people you learn that is not the case at all. These men lived through hell on earth to defend this country and the world. This event is for all to attend, but it is also about the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Three years ago, I had an opportunity to visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC. It was a very emotional experience. When I left the Wall I felt sick to my stomach and very, very angry. After seeing all of those names, I thought to myself what a waste of human life. In reflecting on my visit, it occured to me that those men gave their lives for me.
According to the Vietnam Veterans of America as of Jan. 1, 2007 there are 58,253 names listed on the memorial. There are eight women listed on the memorial. Seven were US Army nurses and one Air Force nurse. There are 16 military chaplains listed on the memorial. Two were awarded the Medal of Honor. As of Aug. 13, 2007 there are 1,773 missing in action from the Vietnam War.
I encourage everyone who is reading this column to attend the "Moving Wall" this week. Put all politics aside and come and shake the hands of the men who are still here. Come and see for your self the names of the fallen. These heroes should not be forgotten and if we take just a little time out of our day they will not be.