Fifteen years ago, while serving as a Staff Sergeant in the Ohio Air National Guard, I volunteered to help with the assembly and operation of the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall in Zanesville, Ohio. On that weekend, I didn’t expect to come away with one of the most memorable experiences of my military career.
Although the wall was only supposed to take a few hours to put together, due to the uneven terrain, the volunteers of the 220th EIS ended up spending twelve hours configuring a foundation in which to place the wall. None of us left until it was completed.
The next day, the Wall opened to the public, and I had the opportunity to operate the “Etched in Stone” software program that assisted family members in locating their fallen heroes on the wall. There were hundreds of visitors, hundreds of relatives of those whose names were etched on the gray granite stone. When the Buckeye Guard interviewed me about my experience, this is what I told them.
"A gentleman came to the tent asking for information on an individual. His face was expressionless, he showed no emotion. I found the name he wanted and asked if he needed assistance locating it on the wall. He accepted my help, and when I pointed out the name, he reached up to touch the letters. It was then that he broke down in tears...clutching the paper I had given him. All I could think to do was walk away."
May those who have fallen, never be forgotten.