Having The Moving Wall here in Rugby was an honor and a privilege.
The traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. carries the names of 58,228 U.S. soldiers who were killed in the Vietnam War between 1959 and 1975. The names of 199 North Dakotans were read on Saturday night during the candlelighting ceremony.
The height of American involvement was 1964 when President Lyndon B. Johnson escalated the numbers of Americans fighting in the war to help South Vietnam fight North Vietnam. The Vietnam War was a controversial issue in the United States because some people believed that the U.S. should have stayed out of it and let the North and South come to their own conclusion.
The ones who took on the burden of the decisions made by U.S. leaders were the military soldiers who had sworn to defend their country when asked to do so.
The protestors–who saw speaking out against the war as a way to stop wars something as Americans they have a right to do–were (maybe without intent) demoralizing the soldiers who were there fighting. When the soldiers who lived through the war returned, they were spat upon and humiliated for doing what they had promised their country they would do.
Freedom does not come without paying a heavy price. The price of those who gave their lives was a huge one. However, those who came home in discouragement to a hostile reception, also paid a price. The good that came out of that experience is that all veterans of all wars are honored today.
Hosting The Moving Wall for all to come and see and pay their respects is one way to help heal those who have been wounded emotionally by the experience of the longest and most controversial war of the 20th Century.
It is a way of honoring the memory of the soldiers who gave all for their country. It is a reminder to those distanced from the war by time to remember that freedom is not free. Freedom can’t be taken for granted.
For those who did not get to attend the funerals of their loved ones killed in Vietnam, The Moving Wall is a place to let go of some of the pain. It is a chance to honor a loved one and leave the pain at the foot of the wall.
For the soldiers who fought in that controversial war, it is a time and a place to honor and show respect to them even though it is 36 years since the war ended. We have given them back their dignity. They listened to their leaders and did what they were trained to do when given an order. Many believed they were protecting the freedom of a neighboring country.
Being a good soldier is a calling that not everyone receives. Thank goodness there are people willing to step up to the task of defending this great country to the extent of giving their own lives so that others can be free.
Vietnam veterans know that you are appreciated and respected the same as all veterans of wars fought by the USA.