Saturday, 02 December 2023

Dedication formally opens Moving Wall visit

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Reaching out to the past: Children visit The Moving Wall at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Friday, June 12, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


 

 

 


LAKEPORT – Hundreds of community members gathered on Friday morning for the solemn opening ceremonies for “The Moving Wall” Vietnam memorial visiting the county this week.


The 9 a.m. ceremony took place at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Martin St.


The event drew men and women of all ages, and veterans from many wars and generations – from Pearl Harbor survivors up to veterans of the wars in the Middle East.


This is the only Northern California stop for the wall for the rest of the year. Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, which is hosting the memorial, is expecting visitors from all over this state this weekend.


The Moving Wall will be open for visitation 24 hours a day until the closing ceremonies on June 15.


Speakers at Friday's event included Supervisor Jim Comstock, a Navy veteran who served during Vietnam veteran. Comstock noted that there was “no better place to be than right here, right now.”

 

 

 

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Supervisor Jim Comstock, himself a Vietnam veteran, spoke at the opening ceremony on Friday, June 12, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
 

 

 


Dean Gotham, president of VVA Chapter 951, the organization which is hosting the wall, thanked the community for its support and for making the wall's visit a success.


A table with a single place setting stood in front of the stage, representing prisoners of war and those missing in action. Each object represented a notion for POW and MIA soldiers: the white table-cloth represents the purity of intentions to respond to the call; the red rose represents blood and the family and friends who keep faith; the lemon represents fate; the salt the countless volunteers and families involved in the POW and MIA’s life; the Bible, strength of faith; the candle, the light of hope in loved ones' hearts and the illumination of the path home; and the overturned glass represents the fact that they can not toast with us today.


Three sculptures by local artist Rolf Kriken stand in the field before the wall. Each one has a strong tie to the meaning of The Moving Wall and all that it represents.


Chaplain Herman W. Hughes, LT, USN took the podium to share a few stories and a poem he wrote after Vietnam, entitled “The Street Without Joy.” He introduced the poem, explaining it was named for a stretch of Highway 1 from Dong Ha to Hue that came to be called “The Street Without Joy” during the French-Indochina War. Hughes was in Vietnam in 1968 and wrote the poem, which he dedicated to the people whose names appeared on the wall.


Street Without Joy

Verdant fields like manicured gardens,

Laced delicately with blue and

Starkly contrasted against barren

Dunes and rust hills, flash by

As cool monsoon rains pepper

The windows of the Huey

That carries me high above

The Street Without Joy.

Far below me unimposing.

Ancestral homes are carelessly

Sprinkled across a patchwork of

Rice paddies and stately hedgerows.

Majestic churches lift their

Spires in silent prayer as

Children tend water buffalo on

The Street Without Joy.


Peace and tranquility seem to

Pervade this pastoral scene,

The pain and ravages of war

Long past and almost forgotten.

But, alas, it’s only a sad

And transitory illusion, for

I know that Charlie still walks

The Street Without Joy.

 

 

 

Hughes then read the benediction.


The ceremony ended with a dedication and everyone rose to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, as a bugler with the United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team played “Taps.”


Following the ceremony visitors began walking the length of the wall, with the Avenue of Flags – composed of 50 flags that had adorned the caskets of veterans – flying close by. Mementos – flowers, poems and pictures – had already begun to gather along the base of the wall.


E-mail Caitlin Andrus at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

 

 

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Dean Gotham, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, thanked the community for its support. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

 

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Chaplain Herman "Woody" Hughes read a poem about his time in Vietnam. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

 

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The United Veterans Council Military Funeral Honors Team offered a salute and rifle salvo. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
 

 

 

 

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Jim Harris (center), a World War II veteran who saw action at Pearl Harbor and D-Day, attended The Moving Wall's opening ceremony on Friday, June 12, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
 

 

 

 

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People walk along the wall, which is being displayed at the Lake County Fairgrounds from June 11 through June 15, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
 

 

 

 

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Visitors pause to view one of local sculptor Rolf Kriken's original works, on display at The Moving Wall. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
 

Upcoming Calendar

2Dec
12.02.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
2Dec
12.02.2023 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Free mending workshop
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12.02.2023 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Festival of Trees
3Dec
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9Dec
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9Dec
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Christmas in Middletown
14Dec
12.14.2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Lakeport Blizzard event
16Dec
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Kelseyville Wreaths Across America ceremony
16Dec
12.16.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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