By Dennis Minich
A crowd of 500 to 600 people were on hand on last Thursday night for the opening ceremony of the Moving Wall, a one-half scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
While temperatures had soared earlier in the afternoon, some clouds and a soft breeze cooled the crowd as Master of Ceremonies Wes Cunningham guided the way through the 30-minute program. During the brief ceremony, Mayor Judy Bowman welcomed those attending to the city. Veterans from each branch of service were recognized as the band played the anthems of each branch.
Cunningham shared some information about the wall before performing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” As bagpipes played “Amazing Grace” a wreath was placed at the center of the wall adorned with the motto, “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.” After a three-volley salute, the dead were honored with the playing of “Taps.”
Gold Star families, those who lost family members in Vietnam, led the procession past the wall, followed by veterans and then the general public.
The wall was escorted to the site by a veteran’s motorcycle group. With an abundance of volunteers on hand. It was erected and ready for the public before noon. It was closed with a brief ceremony on Monday at noon.
A final prayer and one last playing of taps occurred before Cunningham and Ed Roberts removed the wreath and volunteers began taking the wall back down. Even as it was dismantled, people lined up to visit the wall.
Organizers said there was no way to accurately measure how many people came to the wall. While estimates prior to the event were for up to 50,000 people, the actual number was probably much less. However, despite temperatures approaching 100 degrees, there was a steady stream of visitors each day of the event. Additionally, there were multiple visitors at the wall throughout each night.
Bringing the wall to Harrisonville was the dreamchild of Steve Tiedeman of American Legion Post No. 42. He first announced plans for the wall’s placement in November of last year. Since that time, several committees worked to provide volunteers, security, construction and publicity for the event.