The Wall That Heals Comes to Clinton Township 09.02.10

If a single concensus exists among the dozens of vets interviewed for Our Vietnam Generation—doctors to engineers, senators to day laborers—it is their profound, undying respect for those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
And nowhere are the memories more keen than at the starkly beautiful Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.  The monument, inspired by former infantryman Jan Scruggs and designed by architect Maya Lin, contains the names of more than 58,000 service members who died in South East Asia along with those who remain unaccounted for.  

Although controversy surrounded the monument from the outset (as may fit a controversial war), the years have proven how moving the sculpture is to those who have seen it, touched it, and prayed before it.

Unfortunately, not every American has a chance to do this.

Then, on Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund unveiled a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States.  Thus far, the ‘Wall That Heals’ has traveled to more than 300 cities and towns throughout the United States, spreading the Memorial's healing legacy to the millions who will not have an opportunity to visit Washington DC.

Over the long, lazy Labor Day weekend in 2010, it was Clinton Township’s turn.  Escorted by dozens of motorcyclists, local H.O.G. Chapters, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapters, Amvet Posts, VFW Posts, and American Legion Posts, the wall arrived at the Clinton Township Civic complex and was constructed piece by piece, many hefted by Vietnam Veterans.

Nearby, overseen by Patrick Daniels, the longtime president of the Roseville-based Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154, the Michigan Moving Wall was also on display, bringing home memories of the 2,654 Michigan men and women whose died in service in Souteast Asia.

Nearly 12,000 people came to view the memorials and pay their respects to the sacrifices made by the men and women whose names are etched on the monument.

On Sunday, September 5, closing ceremonies capped the weekend’s events.  Speakers included Pat Daniels and Donald ‘Digger’ Odell, a retired retired Air Force colonel from Harrison Township who spent part of the war as a prisoner in the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’—the POW camp that also housed John McCain.  Although the 76-year-old Odell spoke eloquently about the obligations that free Americans have to those who died in line of duty, he claims that he still cannot look at the names of the many men he fought alongside whose names appear on the wall.

“I want to remember my friends the way they were, not as an etching on the wall. Someday, perhaps…”

Township Supervisor Robert Cannon, one of the financial sponsors of the display, believed that everything went well.  “I think it looked very nice on our property and I think our community learned a little more about our veterans.”



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