THE AMERICAN VETERAN'S TRAVELING WALL
THE IMPACT OF THE TRAVELING WALL
The American Veterans Tribute set up The Traveling Wall May 21, 2009 in Lufkin at the V.F.W. post on 1800 Ford Chapel Road. The wall is in remembrance of those that lost their lives fighting for our country. It took several hours to assemble the 370 foot wall. It is 80 percent the size of the memorial in Washington. However, it includes all of the same names and has the same impact as the memorial. The wall was open to the public 24 hours a day and it stayed through Memorial Day. They took it down Tuesday morning at 7 a.m.
On Wednesday, May the 20th, I saw a sight that I've never seen in my life before when the American Veteran Traveling Tribute rolled into Lufkin, Texas. My daughter and I had went in to town to grab a bite to eat and when we were heading back home, I heard sirens. Naturally, I stopped right where I was at. The policeman motioned for me to continue going and all I could see behind me was more cops and a limousine with flags on it.
Now, I'm not one to read the paper or to watch the news on tv, so I had no idea what was going on. I thought that maybe President Obama had came to town! I turned onto a side street and went through a neighborhood to get back onto the road to take us home. Lo and behold, while I was at the stop sign, here comes the police again! I was beginning to think I was in trouble! Thankfully, he kept going and the next thing I saw were 5 different cop cars, the limousine, 4 of the area radio station vans, our local paper's car, and the television van. I watched as they turned into Lufkin VFW Post and thought that was the end of it. Just as I started to go forward, here comes another cop car with sirens and lights blaring!
Behind him came, what I can only surmise, were at least 150 motorcyclists on Harley Davidsons. Now, if you aren't familiar with a Harley, you will never forget the rumble and vibration when you DO run across one. To sit there while they all passed by was an experience of a lifetime! Now, I don't drive a small car, mind you. I have an old 97 Chevy Blazer that weighs quite a bit when I have it loaded down with my candles, as I did that day. But that blazer rumbled with the vibration of those Harleys!
My daughter and I waved and saluted everyone that we could! I loved that I got to share the experience of it with her. Simply because of the fact that I got to teach her about something that children don't seem to learn about in school anymore. Why she should respect a member of our Armed Forces, what they have done for us, and why she should thank one when she sees them. The same thing my dad taught me as a child. I thought just how fitting it was to watch all of those American made motorcycles roll that beautiful tribute to America's Heroes into town!
The next day we visited the tribute. I spoke with the men who were working there selling t-shirts, who were both veterans and was so proud of my daughter for speaking up and telling them thank you without me having to tell her to. I wish I had thought to ask them their names but I didn't even think to.
We walked around the area and you could sense the magnitude of what that wall meant in the air. I'm not really a cry at a commercial kind, but I cried walking around and reading the names on that wall. I had a great uncle who died in a war, but I never knew him as it happened before I was even born. I'm truly blessed. But I'm more blessed because of the names on that wall and the ones who continue to fight for our freedom. The impact of it hit me so hard in the heart that I broke down and just flat out cried. One of the veterans in the booth came towards me as my daughter and I were leaving and I told him, "I don't normally cry like this." To which he replied. "That's the patriot in you. Nothing to be ashamed of." I hugged his neck and told him thank you for everything and we left for home.
The next day, I went back again with my camera to get some photos of it and carried those two vets some BBQ. I walked around getting photos of the artwork they had there and the moment I got within 6 foot of that wall, the tears started again. Even though it's just a replica, it still carries the same somberness and glory as the real one. If you ever get an opportunity to see either of them, I suggest you do. Just be forewarned: The wall has all the power of the memorial in Washington, D.C., if you take a minute to think about the people represented on it.
I had the chance to meet a lot of veterans that day and also some servicemen. To look at the photos and art that was there and to hear those men relate their stories of war while they searched for friends' names on the wall was an honor for me. It's something I've never heard, nor done before. To stand there and watch a grown man cry and ask "Why. Why did they need that horrible war?" while reading the Korean War section was pure heartbreaking. I told him that we may never know the reason why.
As I watched him walk away, another man walked up and stood there. When I looked at him, I had to look up to the sky to see his face. He was a tall, handsome older gentleman and looked so nice in his dress uniform. I asked him if I could take his picture. He gestured for a friend of his to join him and I snapped the photo. Later I found out that he was R. LTG. Orren Whiddon. I'll never forget how tall he was!
I saw men that day walking just as straight and proud as they could in their old service gear and I saw them in fatigues as they rolled their wheelchairs up for a closer look. And on every face there was something I will never forget the look of. Pride in what they had done and sorrow for who they lost.
As I was leaving, I happened upon a young boy who really didn't even look old enough to be out of school, in his fatigues. I asked him if I could get his picture
and he stood up straight and proud and said, "Yes ma'am!" When I lowered the camera, he smiled and told me thank you for taking my picture. I just smiled at him as yet another tear rolled down my cheek and told him it was yet another honor for me to be able to take it. He hugged my neck. His name was Wes Mohon. All I could think of is that could very well be my son putting his life on the line for America.. and how much he still looked like a baby.
Even as I remember those two days and type up this lense, I still have tears in my eyes. But if given the chance, I'll go again. Hopefully one day, I'll be able to see the real wall, but if not, I'm thankful that I had the chance to see this one.
THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER NARRATIVE
I HAD TO PUT THIS ON YOU TUBE IN TWO PARTS, AS THE VIDEO WAS TOO LONG. IT'S A NARRATIVE ON THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER AND THE NATIONAL ANTHEM SUNG AFTER IT.
IT'S A BEAUTIFUL AND COMPELLING STORY AND SONG SET TO VIDEO WITH THE PHOTOS I TOOK AT THE AMERICAN VETERANS TRAVELING TRIBUTE WALL. IT'S SOMETHING, IN MY OPINION, THAT EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD LISTEN TO. I DOUBT VERY SERIOUSLY THAT IT IS TAUGHT IN OUR SCHOOLS TODAY, IF IT WERE, OUR COUNTRY WOULD PROBABLY BE IN A BETTER SHAPE.
PEOPLE SEEM TO FORGET THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT AS ONE NATION UNDER GOD. IF THE PEOPLE DEFENDING OUR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS AREN'T RESPECTED AND HONORED, THEN WE, AS A NATION FAIL.
THE SAME GOES FOR THE ONES, WHO UP UNTIL TODAY, HAVE DEFENDED THOSE SAME RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS. WHILE EVERYONE IS "TOO BUSY" TO ATTEND A MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE OR VETERAN'S DAY TRIBUTE, REMEMBER THIS... IF NOT FOR THEM.. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO WHATEVER ELSE IT IS YOU ARE DOING INSTEAD OF SHOWING YOUR RESPECT!!
RESPECT YOUR VETS AND YOUR ARMED FORCES!
THEY ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO BE FREE!!
The Star Spangled Banner - Part 1
This video had to be put into two parts on youtube.
The Star Spangled Banner - Part 2
VIETNAM PAINTINGS - ARTIST NORM BERGSMA
"We should like you, our brothers, to know something of the trouble we went through in Asia. At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more that we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end, Yet we believe now that we had this sense of impending disaster so that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead. It was God who preserved us from such deadly perils, and it is he who still preserves us."
2 Corinthians 1:8-10, Paul of Tarsus.
Point Man 65 A.D.
This is the opening on artist Norm Bergsma's website. His prints were the first thing I saw before the wall. I was drawn back to them after visiting the wall too. They are simply amazing. He was drafted into the army in the summer of '68 and ended up going into the Vietnam war in '69.
Norm is painting an ongoing series about his experiences in Vietnam that visually express one man's journey through Post Traumatic Stress and the struggle to come to terms with war and its aftermath of combat. Norm credits Jesus Christ with the inspiration to paint and the healing it has brought him. It is his sincere desire to share some of his divine healing with others through his paintings. excerpt from his bio.
I think he is one of the most talented artists I've ever had the chance to view. The following pictures are just a few of the ones he had on exhibit at the wall. Visit his site to see his gallery. You won't be disappointed.
WORKS OF NORM BERGSMAClick thumbnail to view full-size
VIETNAM WAR FACTS & VETERAN'S PRAYERClick thumbnail to view full-size
MORE LINKS ON THE TRAVELING WALL
- American Veterans Traveling Tribute ( AVTT )
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- Paying tribute: Veterans, families from across East Texas attend opening ceremony for the American V
The American Veteran Traveling Tribute had its official opening ceremony Friday, bringing together veterans and their families from across East Texas at Lufkin's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1836. Keynote speaker Lt. Gen. Orren
- Veterans reunite in time for Memorial Day - KTRE.com Lufkin and Nacogdoches
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Ten years ago Earney Barron and Wayne Thompson's lives crossed paths for the first time since the vietnam war. Friday they reunited.
- Why it matters: Veterans, their families say Traveling Wall Tribute stirs up feelings of joy, sadnes
The Traveling Wall Tribute that arrived in Lufkin this week honors fallen soldiers, serving as a reminder of the lives lost in the pursuit of freedom. At the young age of 23, Barbara Smith, of Nacogdoches became a war widow, losing husband Jeffrey Wa
- Capn Bob & the Damsel
A Southern California couple's perspectives on life and politics.
- quotes from Veterans and others
"LET ME WALK WITH YOU" Dear God, As I approach the Wall, in the presence of the moment, I heard, walk with me. I glanced around and only saw a lady in Black across the open parade area between the registration tables and the Wall. She approache
- welcome to Veterans Music Ministry by Monica Harvey
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