By Dennis Minich
Looking back, many July 4ths have been memorable days. Some included vacations, some included functions with family and friends, some were just quiet times at home. But I may safely say the July 4 holiday of 2019 will be one of the most memorable of my lifetime and not because of the holiday itself, but for what my town did the week prior to the holiday.
Harrisonville: you did yourself proud with the exhibition of the Moving Wall in the city. From the original dream, to the early workings of committees, to the final product, the exhibition in Harrisonville was first rate.
Organizers were even told by the Moving Wall staff that the Harrisonville display was one of the best ever: from venue, to services, to parking, to volunteers. The program may have been one of the most thought-provoking 30 minutes many of us may ever witness. It seemed God was smiling on us as even the scorching heat gave way as the sun slipped behind clouds in the minutes leading up to the program.
People throughout the area were talking about the wall and about Harrisonville and the comments were all superlatives on what a tremendous job the community had done in preparing for and presenting the wall.
As has been said several times, you can’t really start naming names of those who made it happen because no matter how many you mention, you will leave people out. So, leave it at many contributed, including many who went far above expectations. Your efforts were noticed and appreciated.
Ironically, one of the early concerns was having enough volunteers to handle the project. Those concerns were quickly forgotten as not only did volunteers arrive, but many people simply showed up ready to help. And there was a place for everyone.
I have visited the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. on numerous occasions. What you notice whenever you go is the sense of calm and respect that surrounds you. There are no distractions, everyone visiting recognizes the somberness of the area.
That same respect was on display for the five days the Moving Wall was in Harrisonville. From the time a visitor drove up, through the entire visiting process, all the way to departure, the scene was of quiet reverence.
One of the main functions of the wall is to serve as a welcome home to the Vietnam veterans who did not come home to a hero’s welcome, but instead came home to scorn and abuse.
The wall reminds the rest of us of the debt we owe to so many. While it will never be in our power to truly make amends for what these veterans endured, at least we can make an effort to say we remember and we are grateful.
The fourth of July is about remembering the founding of our country. Since day one, there have been those who have been willing to sacrifice everything when their country has called on them to serve.
While we have spent much time recently thinking about Vietnam, let us also appreciate the others still among us, the World War II vets, those who served in Korea, those in Iraq and Afghanistan and in hundreds of other places history was made, but the events forgotten. We owe them all.
It was a great lead up to Independence Day, but even more it was a shining example of what could be accomplished when a community embraces a worthwhile project. I know I speak for many when I say thank you to everyone who made the event possible, successful and meaningful.
And to our Vietnam veterans who were the stars, allow me to say one more time, thank you and welcome home.