Gig Line: The Wall That Heals
Published 6:56 am Thursday, May 5, 2022
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council investigating the idea of hosting an extraordinary event on the Outer Banks. We’re still in the process given the broad scope of everything involved. It will be a considerable (but very worthy) expenditure; a site is extremely important to provide the space needed to accommodate such a large and beautiful spectacle and of course volunteers would be needed to assist in everything from greeting visitors, helping them find their loved ones name on the Wall itself; answering questions, etc., but it is a venture we hope to see come to fruition in 2023 as their schedule is fully reserved for 2022.
We will be making application once the opportunity presents itself on Memorial Day weekend (as the application will not be available until then) and we already have the support of some key players in making this happen. Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County veteran service officer, has accepted the position (upon being asked) to lead the endeavor should it actually occur. Patty’s husband is a Vietnam veteran himself and she, of course, cares deeply about all veterans. When asked and without hesitation, she willingly agreed to help in any way she could. Patty and her son Justin, a U.S. Army veteran currently serving the U. S. Army Reserves, took the time and effort to travel to Garner several weeks ago to personally visit The Wall That Heals and found it to be a very respectful, reverent and impressive display. She reported there were no food vendors or sales of t-shirts and trinkets; it was all about honoring the men and women who lost their lives in the Vietnam War and those who have come home, many still suffering today from their exposure to Agent Orange and the war itself.
Following submission of the application, we won’t know until this November if our area has been selected, as such a large number of applications are submitted each year, but it is our hope that we are selected. From that point forward, council members, one of our commissioners – Wally Overman in particular – a very respected community member who could enable accepting public, private and business tax-deductible donations to finance the project have stepped up to assist as well. Local Vietnam veterans, others from various branches of service who did not serve in Vietnam and non-military community members who simply want to help in any way possible are expressing a willingness. Though Patty and our team will be working behind the scenes to line things up accordingly, the public acknowledgement that this project will hopefully come to fruition will not and cannot be announced until the fall of this year when Patty is notified. In the meantime, we are taking names and contact information of anyone who wishes to help promote and contribute in various ways to bring this incredible reminder of an unforgettable time in our history to the Outer Banks.
Records indicate the Vietnam War was fought (referenced in Wikipedia) from November 1, 1955, to the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, and it encompasses a span of unconceivable heartbreak, there and even back here on American soil at its end. It is a time in which North and South Vietnam fought and as a result, 58,318 Americans gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. The war was engrained with controversy, strong opinions for and against, but at the end of it all the lasting effects of the debate are still felt today by the dwindling numbers of the brave survivors of that conflict. Our incredibly brave men and women never deserved the harsh and cruel treatment that many citizens showed them. They deserved honor and a huge patriotic welcome home, which has unfortunately only been shown in bits and pieces . . . in my opinion, a real disgrace.
I am not a historian by any stretch, but having married the most extraordinary man I have ever known who served boots on ground in Vietnam and who died because of it in 2016, like so many widows and widowers, I get it. And while he kept his emotions and heartache buried deep down inside for the most part, he suffered and he relived the drama and trauma throughout our 46-plus years together before he died. He, like countless others who had endured so much and who simply expected to be treated with the respect and honor they deserved for their sacrifice and suffering, were met instead with name calling, spittle and horrible, unforgiveable public reactions – not by everyone of course, but by too many.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., which is located north of the Lincoln Memorial, was opened to the public November 13, 1982. It is a huge and beautifully created tribute, a granite tablet so to speak, listing the names of the astounding loss of life. Men and women, many of which were so young when they went there, who died serving our nation to fight the oppression South Vietnam endured. It is a haunting symbol of patriotism, bravery, sacrifice, heartache, trauma and loss of life. It is also a place for loved ones, service buddies, friends and family to go and kneel, pray, bring tokens to leave, etch names of the fallen and, hopefully and mostly, to heal.
That breathtaking memorial cannot and may never be experienced by families who simply cannot travel to D.C. so for that, several mobile replicas were built to be transported across the United States to be visited closer to home. That is how important The Wall That Heals is. It is one of those traveling memorials that we are engaged in attempting to bring here.
As things progress, I will keep you informed. If at any point in time you would like to express your interest or desire to help us with this, please contact either myself (252-202-2058 or email@example.com) or contact Patty O’Sullivan (252-475-5604 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
There is much to do even if we won’t be hosting the event until 2023 (hopefully), so please don’t think it would be too early to sign up now, offering to help as an onsite volunteer, to help raise tax-deductible donations, to help us market the project, etc. in advance. And speaking of in advance, thank you for thinking about it now.
Dare Days is coming soon – the first weekend in June. In case you haven’t heard, it will be held at Festival Park across the bridge from downtown Manteo on that Saturday for the first time since its inception due to construction downtown. So, please mark your calendar and plan to attend our Dare County Veterans Advisory Council booth. You’ll be able to pick up free veteran-related handout material, register for a chance to win a free American flag and learn more about the many ways in which the council has successfully assisted our veterans. Plus, my friends, it’ll give us a chance to meet you and thank you, our awesome veterans!
By the time Dare Days rolls around, we’ll have an opportunity for everyone to make a tax-deductible donation (if you would like to) to be used specifically toward the expenses of bringing The Wall That Heals here. No pressure of course, I just wanted to let you know.
Lastly and importantly, if you are a veteran and you own a business in Dare County/Outer Banks, please let me or Patty know or see us at the Dare Days booth. We are comprising a list of veteran-owned businesses to acknowledge that you have served!
Until next time, be healthy, safe and happy. Love yourself first so you can love others fully and know how much I love you too! I’ll keep you posted as usual on veteran related matters and as things unfold and progress. Pray for our troops wherever they are and just know how much you all mean to all of us. God bless you and your loved ones! Thank you for reading Gig Line. Stay tuned!