2017-07-09 / Editorial

A moving tribute to Vietnam soldiers

More than 58,000 American lives were lost in Vietnam — one of the longest and most controversial wars that Americans watched from their living rooms. The Vietnam War had far-reaching consequences and impact on most aspects of American life from the economy, culture to domestic politics and foreign policy — some of which continue to do so today.

The Vietnam War impacted attitudes, policies and the way Americans view their government and their nation’s place in the world. It altered the way the government conducts war and interacts with the media. And yet, more than 50 years since the U.S. committed combat troops to the war in Vietnam, critical questions still remain in the public’s mind about how and why the U.S. became involved.

Yet it’s important to separate the soldier from Washington politics and honor the memory and sacrifice of those who served and died in Vietnam. A unique opportunity is afforded Lapeer County residents this weekend to visit The Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., set up on the ball fields north of the former Almont Elementary School on Church Street.

There visitors around-the-clock can view the wall that holds the names of 58,307 names — including that of 22 Lapeer County residents — who were killed or died of disease or injuries sustained during the eight-year war that ended in 1975.

The local visit of The Moving Wall is part of a three-year culmination of the anniversary of the Vietnam War that will conclude in October with a special dinner in North Branch for veterans and their families. We commend the efforts of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 287 and Almont American Legion Post 479 who have coordinated the visit of The Moving Wall to Almont.

The current visit of the Vietnam Memorial replica, the fourth visit to Lapeer County since 1998, has been spearheaded by Vietnam veterans Joe Cain and Glenn Ream who orchestrated the special event and organized a small army of volunteers that consists of veterans and area residents.

It’s an honor for Almont, and Lapeer County, to again host The Moving Wall because U.S. soldiers remain in harm’s way around the globe and we must never forget the consequences of deployment and engagement in foreign lands. The Moving Wall is here at a time of tense geopolitics and hostilities around the war including in Syria, North Korea and Afghanistan where President Donald Trump recently authorized several thousand additional troops to a war that, in its 16th year, engages about 8,800 American troops.

In 1979, a Vietnam vet named Jan Scruggs had a vision to create a memorial to the 2.7 million Americans who served in the war. Despite initial cynicism and opposition, the memorial was built. At the dedication in 1982, there were 57,939 names inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial in Today, there are 58,307 names on the black granite wall.

Remembered on the wall are the names of Lapeer County residents who died as a result of the war. They are:

Thomas Harrison of Metamora; died June 22, 1966;

Robert McGee of Clifford; died March 30, 1967;

Rodney Edwards of Columbiaville; died May 9, 1967;

Thomas Hendershott of Lapeer; died May 21, 1967;

Terry McComb of Lapeer; died June 5, 1967;

Gordon Kropp of Lapeer; died Aug. 5, 1967; • Dennis Getty of Lapeer; died Sept. 6, 1967;

Robert Greanya of Lapeer; died Nov. 30, 1967;

Wayne Pingel of Lapeer; died Feb. 23, 1968;

James Baucom of Lapeer; died Feb. 28, 1968;

Fred McHugh, Jr. of Hadley; died March 6, 1968;

Paul Kohler of North Branch; died May, 28, 1968;

Michael Beals of Lapeer; died July 15, 1968;

Henry Gutierez, Jr. of Imlay City; died Feb. 1, 1969;

Thomas Gregson of Attica; died March 8, 1969;

Douglas Matheson of Columbiaville; died May 23, 1969;

Robert Beckman of Lapeer; Aug. 19, 1969;

Charles Sharpe of Almont; May 25, 1970;

Richard Salmond of Metamora; died Nov. 15, 1970;

Joseph Marshall of Almont; died Feb. 18, 1971;

Edward Wilmers of Lapeer; died Jan. 21, 2014.

We honor their memory today as well as remember their surviving family and friends who miss their loved ones. If you visit The Moving Wall today or Monday thank a Vietnam veteran sure to be there, or else offer a kind word to family who might be on hand for this moving tribute that must be seen in person to appreciate.

Return to top

Copyright © 2009-2018 The County Press, All Rights Reserved

Click here for the E-Edition
2017-07-09 digital edition

Unrestricted access available to web site subscribers

Subscribers to the County Press newspaper can now purchase the complete online and E-Edition of the paper for as little as $5 for three months. If you want a six month subscription to the online edition it is $10 and a full year can be purchased for $20.

Non-subscribers can sign up for the online version for $15 for three months, $30 for six months and $60 for an annual subscription.