“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” — Jose Narosky
“We’re going to have a military flyover. This doesn’t happen very often in Clarksville.” — Mike Ooley.
Beany Smith regarding multiple visits to the Wall during late evening hours in Washington, D.C., “What always stuck in my mind was all of the people grieving.”
“The whole idea came with some guys sitting on the tailgate of a truck in a parking lot in Memphis, Ind.: “What do you think about bringing the Wall to Southern Indiana?” — Chuck Adams.
“We will have a candlelight vigil; it means a lot to them [veterans] with 1,000 candles.” — Greg Alexander.
If you leave four guys alone in a parking lot with nothing to do, eventually one of them will come up with something, regardless of their age. The four men quoted at the beginning of this column compose the committee that is bringing a “wars” memorial spectacular to Clarksville in the coming days. We sat down at Longhorn Steakhouse this past Wednesday as I attended their final formal committee meeting and accompanied them to an open field on Veterans Parkway near the intersection of Clevidence Drive in front of the police station.
Theirs was a mixture of enthusiasm and sense of knowing time was running out to account for all of the finite details such an event will require to pull off successfully as we walked the staked out grassy area which for a few days will become sacred and hallowed ground. I sensed perhaps even a couple of them were surprised at the man hours and mental energy the task had required. There is a sense of pride and cautious confidence that they are ready.
The Traveling Tribute Wall this week will be a replica 80 percent the size of the original in D.C. — a few years ago the Charlestown traveling exhibit was a 50 percent size. To be sure, while it will fit, there will be little footage left to spare between the parameters that fall between the adjacent streets. In addition to the Vietnam Memorial, there will be memorials to the other U.S. wars as well.
Featured speakers will include local veterans and celebrities such as Heather French Henry, 2000 Miss America, whose platform always included honoring Vietnam and other veterans in tribute to her father — a disabled Vietnam veteran (now rescheduled to Friday evening as opposed to the original Saturday listed on the brochures).
One of my childhood friends and in my mind one of Jeffersonville High School’s most distinguished graduates, Brigadier General Mark R. Kraus (Assistant Adjutant General-Air Kentucky National Guard), will keynote the opening activities Thursday evening along with an opening by Vietnam veteran and former WHAS-TV news anchor Gary Roedemeier.
On Friday, two resident veterans from Westminster Village will share their personal stories.
Joseph Herman Johns was on active duty in the Air Force Reserve in 1942-43 and his own son Joey died in Vietnam in 1970. Earl Neal served with the Army Air Corps starting in 1944 part of a squadron flying the C-47’s.
The Wall as always will be open and available to visit 24 hours per day during the stay in Clarksville from September 13-16. The committee wanted me to let people know that volunteers are still needed to aid with parking duties and to assist elderly and disabled veterans. Volunteers will be asked to work four-hour shifts.
This is a perfect opportunity for our area high school students who will be applying for college scholarships and grants to get credit for performing community service. Local students will be making class field trips.
I cannot think of a better quality family night out than to let your children have the opportunity to share stories and to personally thank the many veterans whom will certainly want to share the stories and answer questions about their military experience.
Perhaps I am most excited personally to see the visual spectacle that will be the arrival expected to reach Eastern Boulevard and Brooks Avenue at about 5:45 Wednesday evening. It is hoped to be led by a motorcade of as many as 1,000 motorcycles. As of Wednesday, about 400 were confirmed.
The history of the Wall’s travels indicates scores more will simply show up without RSVPs to share the honor that is escorting the traveling memorial.
The complete route is laid out on the website and will find the motorcade traveling through Jeffersonville, Charlestown and Sellersburg before ending up at the Sam’s Club parking lot at about 6:40 p.m.
The committee expressed their absolute praise and gratitude for the multitude of businesses, residents, local veterans organizations and many other countless local groups and individuals that have donated hours, materials and money. The total budget will amount to around $18,000 with almost that amount in donated supplies and labor.
You can get more information at uniontownshipinfo.com or to volunteer you can call Dawn Compton at 812-989-1423.
At the end of our dinner conversation, Chuck Adams looked across the table and kiddingly asked, “What are we going to do next?”
One of the other men answered: “Let’s get through this week first?”
I guess that answer will come during the next parking lot tailgating session in Memphis.
— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” — Jose Narosky
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