Vietnam Memorial Wall moves visitors |

Vietnam Memorial Wall moves visitors

by Sarah Drinkwine
Patriot Guard and Vietnam Veterans Association members escort The Moving Wall into Eastside Gardens Memorial Park Thursday morning in Minden.
Brad Coman

A replica of The Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., visited Eastside Memorial Park in Minden, where at least 100 residents, veterans and civilians, paid their respects during the opening ceremony Friday.

“For our little town it was an amazing showing of support and community for those that have served our country and to honor the fallen heroes and their families,” said Eastside Memorial Park co-owner Nadia Shahin.

Not a dry eye could be seen during the ceremony. Not when Pastor Dan Steen of Calvary Chapel Carson Valley presented the invocation and benediction, or during Marine Lance Corp. Michael Elterman’s poem “Gone, but not Forgotten,” nor during the three-volley salute and readings of fallen heroes from Nevada and surrounding areas.

Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell, a Vietnam veteran and retired Navy captain addressed the audience Friday.

“It is a place for families to quietly grieve for the loss of their loved ones — a loss that never really goes away, he said. “For veterans it is a sacred place to open and to possibly finally close on the scars of the war and to pay tribute to their friends and battle buddies who didn’t make it back.”

Crowell also visited The Moving Wall when it came to Carson City a few years ago.

“I’ll never forget when the moving wall came to Carson City,” he said. “I had the honor to guard The Wall and one night we found a Silver Star medal with a note that read, ‘I don’t know if you ever got yours, but here is mine.’ Even today it is not hard to get teary-eyed when remembering that night. It says so much about the men and women who fought that war.”

More than 2,100 on the wall are missing in action or prisoners of war.

Carson City resident Deborah Woodall was trying to locate one of those missing.

Woodall said she has worn a bracelet with the name Marine Lance Corp. Edward J. Rykoskey Aug., 18, 1966, SVN, printed on it for more than 30 years after adopting a soldier during the war.

As far as she knew, Rykoskey had not been identified as living or dead.

“I’m going to see if he is on the wall and send the bracelet to his family,” she said. She also has friends on the wall she wanted to visit.

Genoa resident Marian Vassar was visiting her brother David Bujalski, who died in combat in 1967.

“He died 10 days after being sent to Vietnam, leaving behind a wife and two children,” she said. “I believe God decided He did not want him to see anymore horrors of the war and that is why he died.”

Both the Vietnam Memorial Wall and The Moving Wall display more than 58,000 men and women who served during the Vietnam War.

“When you approach the memorial you don’t recognize what is going on and then you see the names on the wall and you are drawn in and the emotions pour forth,” said John Devitt, a former helicopter gunner and Army veteran, who created The Moving Wall in 1984.

Devitt visited the original Wall in 1982 and was moved by the positive power The Wall provided him. He vowed to share that experience with those who did not have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C.

Two years later, Devitt’s vision for a “Moving Wall” went on display for the first time in Tyler, Texas, in 1984.

Since than, The Moving Wall has traveled every year for 34 years, bringing positive power to millions of Americans.

“It is a reminder not only of the bravery of fellow warriors and the tremendous human cost of war,” said Crowell. “It is also a subtle, but powerful reminder for all of us that we must never again allow our military men and women to suffer for giving their all to serve our country.”

The Moving Wall is available for viewing 24 hours a day through Monday at Eastside Memorial Park located at 1600 Buckeye Road, Minden,

A closing ceremony will be 7 p,m. today at the park, and the wall will close 3 p.m. Monday.

For more information, 782-2215.