© Jerry F. Couch
In observance of Veterans Day 2018, we are bringing you a retrospective from 1997, when The Moving Wall memorial honoring casualties of the Vietnam War came to St. Paul.
During its stop in St. Paul, the Moving Wall was displayed at the A. R. Matthews Park with large crowds in attendance. Two formal ceremonies were also conducted. The first ceremony took place on Wednesday, Sept. 24th with approximately 400 visitors who came out in the rain to attend. An evening candlelight service was held on Saturday, September 27th with approximately 1,000 people present to pay their respects.
There were several guest speakers at each ceremony. Among them were Bill Cumbow, a WWII veteran; Charles McConnell, a Vietnam veteran; and Roger Rutherford, a Vietnam veteran. The wall itself was the most eloquent speaker of all. Among the 58,000+ names listed upon it are those of the following local servicemen:
LCPL David Estrada, Coeburn, VA
MAJ James Wilfred Clement, Coeburn, VA
PFC Douglas Edward Dishman, Dante, VA
PFC Rodney Douglas Pickett, Coeburn, VA
PFC Terry Dane Alsup, Cleveland, VA
SFC Fred Taylor, Castlewood, VA
SGT James Franklin Austin, Castlewood, VA
SP4 Robert Gilmer Garrett, Castlewood, VA
SP4 Virgil Lee Austin, St. Paul, VA
SP5 Kyle Stevens Hamilton, St. Paul, VA*
Sandra Alsup Hilton, sister of Terry Alsup, points to her brother’s name.
The Moving Wall website contains the following information:
“The Moving Wall” is the half-size replica of the Washington, DC Vietnam Veterans Memorial and has been touring the country for thirty plus years. When John Devitt attended the 1982 dedication in Washington, he felt the positive power of “The Wall.” He vowed to share that experience with those who did not have the opportunity to go to Washington.
John, Norris Shears, Gerry Haver, and other Vietnam veteran volunteers built The Moving Wall. It went on display for the first time in Tyler, Texas in October of 1984. Two structures of The Moving Wall now travel the USA from April through November, spending about a week at each site.”
*NOTE: The Clinch Valley Times will feature a separate story about Steve Hamilton as a follow-up to this article.