Vietnam Veterans Traveling Wall arrives in Wisconsin Rapids on Thursday

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"It brings people together. People for the war. People against the war. It has a lasting effect," said John Devitt, wall creator and former Army helicopter door gunner.

The Moving Wall, a portable replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is one veteran's tribute to the sacrifices made by his fallen comrades.

As part of the Cranberry Blossom Festival, the Wall is coming to Wisconsin Rapids on Thursday, with opening ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. at Witter Field. The Wall is a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.; it stands six feet tall at the center and is approximately 300 feet in length. The Wall will stay in Wisconsin Rapids until closing ceremonies after the Cranberry Blossom parade on Sunday.

Few know of the sacrifice Hmong soldiers made to help the United States during the war. As the war escalated, the United States recruited Hmong soldiers as informants. Many of these soldiers played an integral role in cutting the Communist supply flow along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. They fought in the guerilla war to help America and rescued fallen U.S. soldiers.

When the United States left Vietnam in 1975, the Hmong who worked for the CIA no longer were welcome in their own country. Roughly 40,000 families of soldiers were admitted to the United States. Nearly 16,000 reside in Wisconsin. Central Wisconsin is home to many Lao veterans who traveled to the United States with their families seeking political asylum.

The Moving Wall is a tribute to all veterans and the sacrifices they made during that time. Local Lao Veterans of America will join the U.S. veterans on Thursday during the opening ceremony, walking with them in a show of solidarity. The Moving Wall truly does bring people together.

The Moving Wall is brought to Wisconsin Rapids, thanks in part to unrestricted and other funds that support causes like this and are held at the Community Foundation of Greater South Wood County.

Contributed by Liz Everson and Lee Pao Thao, Diversity Committee members.


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