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COLUMN: The Wall is a reminder we live in the greatest country in the world

By Arles Kumpula

Today "The Wall" is being placed in a truck and moved to its next location. With it go many memories and emotions. Many of those memories and emotions will stay with us and rightfully so.

When we began the planning way back, it looked like an almost impossible task, but each day things came together. Yes, things hit road blocks, such as the postponement, but the "Wall" became more than just a wall of 50,000 names. It almost became real, like it was speaking to us. "Look, it's up and I need you to remember." At night, it almost glowed as it was speaking.

To each of us it had a different meaning, feeling, and emotion. When the speakers talked to us about their experiences, the Wall became real. Pent-up emotions were released. They not only gave of their lives once, but did it again as they made their experiences real.

In all the readings, there were emotions felt; "50,000 Names on The Wall," as repeated in song later, helped us to realize just how many lives were affected, not only by the ones whose names were there, but also those family members who were left behind. These same feelings were brought out in other readings, "Freedom isn't Free." How many take it for granted and never realize the cost, and how much we are in debt to each name on the Wall and for those who are still here, who also carry much of that debt on their shoulders?

Each day, even though the program was planned and changes were made as needed, I felt emotions I can't explain. Every day they built up more and each day the wall spoke louder to my heart. After Saturday morning's program, I just wished I had a shoulder and a pair of arms to hold me while I let the tear drops fall, but "no." I had three programs yet to go. Is this the type of emotion that the speakers previously had before they spoke?

Sunday afternoon program came and when it was finished I asked someone if they felt what I felt, a different calming--a quiet, peaceful feeling. That "All is Well" and when the Wall leaves, all emotions are closed in a book and the pages will be opened when one needs to find the missing element of peace. May we never forget we live in the greatest country in the world thanks to those names on the Wall and others past and present like them. We are "One Nation Under God" and only when we remember to meditate on what we saw and how we feel, we need to fight for it at home. We can only say "Amen, Amen."

(Arles is a member of the Charles D. Center Post 3289 Auxiliary and served as Master of Ceremonies during the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall programs Sept. 10-13 at the V.F.W.)