War memorial visits Topeka

Gabriela Rodriguez, gabriela. [email protected], is a freshman nursing major.

For many Vietnam Veterans and their loved ones, traveling to see the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C is not always a possibility. However, thanks to the Vietnam Veterans of America, those who cannot make the trip to the actual wall still have a chance to pay their respects to the lives lost in Vietnam, through the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Traveling Wall.

The Vietnam Traveling Wall made its stop in Topeka on Thursday, Aug. 28, and remained open 24-hours a day until Sunday, Aug. 31. Located on Forbes Field near the Museum of the Kansas National Guard, the replica wall is an 80 percent scale of the actual memorial in Washington D.C. The replica contains a total of 58,263 names inscribed on it, with approximately 630 names of Kansas soldiers who lost their lives.

Veterans, families, and friends came from all parts of Kansas to see the wall and pay their respects including Toronto, Kan. resident and Vietnam Veteran Larry Clark.

“I’ve been putting off seeing the wall for about 44 years because I didn’t think I could handle it, and I decided now was the right time,” said Clark.

Clark served two tours in the Vietnam War for a total of two years. He hopes that the main thing that everyone who comes to visit this wall will walk away with is the reality that freedom is never free; someone always has to pay the price.

Not only did the Veterans come to pay their respects, many also desired to get involved and volunteer at the wall site. Veteran Larry Liby from Osage City was one of the many who came out to assist visitors locate names on the wall, instruct them on the proper way to sketch a name and answer any questions that they may have.

“Having the wall come to Topeka is very important, because many of the residents either served or knew someone who served in the Vietnam War,” said Libby.

Veterans were not the only ones who could be found at the site. Many families with young children also made visits to the Traveling Wall. Alma resident Ben Berroth and his family came to see his father’s name on the wall and to instill a sense of respect in his children for all the men and women who fight to keep our country a safe place.

Many past service members who did not serve in Vietnam, but were inspired by the bravery of those who did, also made appearances to pay their respects. Dixon County resident and retired service member David Matthews explained how he was inspired and that his heart goes out to all of those who were affected by the war.

“What inspires me the most is how the Vietnam War made brothers out of strangers,” said Matthews.

No matter who the individual or where they were from, the AVTT Traveling Memorial Wall certainly brought all who visited it together for a common cause; to pay respects and remember those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. Hundreds were able to catch a glimpse of the wall during its stop in Topeka before the exhibit moved on to El Dorado, Kan.

For more information, visit www.avtt.org.