By Dennis Minich
As was predicted, the presence of the Moving Wall in Harrisonville was an emotional time for many veterans, families and friends. For some it was a chance for some healing. For others it was time of memories while for many, it was simply a chance to show respect to so many fallen Americans.
Larry Audsley, an Army veteran, was seeing the wall for the first time.
“I have mixed emotions. I’m glad to be here and have a chance to pay my respects. But it is sad because a classmate of mine is on the wall. It is too early for me to tell what this will mean to me, because for years I have felt guilty I made it home and these others didn’t,” Audsley said.
Tommy McGuire from Independence came to see the wall to help a friend.
“His father served in Vietnam and wanted me to come find some names and send them to him. When you look at all of this it almost makes you cry. You look at all of these names, you just can’t put it into words,” he said.
Daryl Graves from Claycomo spent several minutes studying the wall. He was in the Army after Vietnam, but had family there.
“I had two cousins serve in Vietnam that made it home and one who did not,” Graves said. “Its an honor to be able to pay my respects to the people who gave their lives for their country.”
Mary Harbes of Independence has visited the wall in Washington, D.C., and also traveling walls at other locations. She visits to keep a promise to a friend.
“I come to honor Rhena Charles Webster of Long Beach, California,” she said. “He was killed in 1969. In 1973 I basically ran away to California and I met his mother. She took me in and took care of me. Before she passed, I promised he’d never be forgotten so I take every chance I can to honor his memory.
“His mother took me in and cared for me. This man is probably why I am still alive.”
Rodney Davis of Adrian brought his grandson to see the wall.
“I was so excited I couldn’t wait to get up here. And when I saw the wall from the parking lot, I couldn’t’ wait to get out of the truck,” he said.
He remembered one friend who name is on the wall.
“Robert McCardy, from Virginia, he was just a regular guy. He was a guy who had a life. Now he’s a name on the wall,” Davis said.
He also commented about the number of young people who were visiting the wall.
“Its good they’ve come to learn. There isn’t much about the war that is taught. That is why this is so good, these people should not be forgotten,” Davis said.
Sharon Beckman from Drexel came to see one specific name: Billy Gene Channel, Jr., one of five Cass Countians killed during the war.
“I went to school with him and I just wanted to see his name,” she said.
Tom Walker of Garden City was at the opening ceremony on Thursday night, but returned Friday afternoon. He has also seen the wall in Washington, but said seeing it helps heal. He was a mechanic on F-4 Phantom jets in Vietnam.
“It is hard to relate what I saw in Vietnam and then to come home and see the demonstrators protesting and how veterans were treated. Having this to honor these people and to honor all the Vietnam veterans, it means everything to me,” Walker said.
Maybe one of the most emotional people was Harrisonville’s Steve Tiedeman whose idea it was to bring the wall to town. Although he confessed to being sleep deprived as the final details worked out, he said he was happy how everything transpired.
“It was better than I expected,” he said. “The ceremony was so beautiful. I couldn’t have visualized it being any better. With a lot of help from the community, from the service groups, from the businesses, this is just tremendous.”