Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Top stories of 2009: No. 9, The Moving Wall visits Lake County

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Visitors trace names on the Moving Wall during its visit to Lakeport in June 2009. Photo by Ginny Craven.

 

 

 


LAKE COUNTY – For four days in June, in an an event which offered healing and understanding – even reconciliation – for a generation of veterans, the community paused to honor the service of those who fought and died in the midst of one of the nation's most painful chapters.


From June 11 through 15, Vietnam Combat Veterans Ltd.'s “Moving Wall” Vietnam memorial visited Lake County, making its temporary home at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeport.


The effort to bring the Moving Wall to Lake County had begun nearly three years earlier, when Dean Gotham, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, and another chapter member, George Dorner, applied in September 2006 to host the monument.


When Gotham got the OK in October of 2008, it set off months of hard work and planning that included the efforts of countless local residents and community groups, who Gotham commended for stepping up in a way he said he'd never seen before.


The Moving Wall – a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC – has toured the country since 1984, visiting nearly 1,200 communities nationwide. Two of the replicas tour the country from April to November, according to organizers.


The wall bears the name of more than 53,000 men and women who died in Vietnam, but it's a memorial to more than just the fallen. The Vietnam Combat Veterans said it's also meant to remember the 2.7 million men and women who served during the conflict.


Gotham said it was important to never forget, and it was clear that the stream of visitors who filed by the wall hadn't.


People came around the clock – children with their parents during the day, wounded warriors who came in the privacy of the night to remember. Nearby, local veterans kept the watch, offering support to those whose memories could prove too much, and too deeply painful.


Veterans of World War II, Korea, the Gulf and other conflicts came to pay their respects to their comrades.


For people like VVA member Ed Moore, the Moving Wall's visit provided him with a chance to see a family member's name on the wall for the first time.


Moore hasn't been to the monument in Washington, DC. His brother, William, a lance corporal in the Marines, died on Dec. 16, 1965, at age 20, and was Lake County's first casualty in the war.


Moore said the county could be proud of itself for how it received the Moving Wall.


John Devitt, founder and chairman of Vietnam Combat Veterans Ltd., said Lake County's presentation of the memorial was “excellent.”


As he prepared the Moving Wall to go to its next destination, Devitt said, “I'm sure it will go way beyond me.”


As the community came together on June 15 for the Moving Wall's closing ceremonies, Gotham told the crowd, “Lake County stands very tall.”


In recognition of his tireless efforts to bring the monument to Lake County, Gotham was honored at the county's Veterans Day with the annual “Friend of the Veteran” Award.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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