Last day for school supply drop off at HPD is TOMORROW Saturday; 8/24
^ Effective August 1st - No grilling or fires at Stoddard Park ^
Kayak / canoe rentals at Stoddard Park ALL Summer!

Moved by the Moving Wall: 20th Anniversary

by Paul Deschenes
July 27, 2019

The Moving Wall came to Holliston in 1999 from July 26th through August 2nd, Its sister wall, The Wall that Heals will be in Bellingham next month. Veterans in town united back in 1999 to make it happen here. Veterans like the late George Snow welcomed me. I switched posts from Ashland, where I was a passive member, to Holliston, where I became more active and involved.

Grown men cry. Twenty years ago a friend of mine, for almost sixty years now, began to shed some quiet tears as we slowly walked from Holliston High School’s parking lot toward the Hollis Street side end zone of Kamitian Field. We have been friends since freshman year in high school. We then carpooled for our four years of college and have remained friends despite our vast philosophical and political differences. He was in ROTC and wanted to go to Vietnam after graduation: “It will be my only chance to go to war.” I, on the other hand, got drafted.

He didn’t want to go – to where I was taking him, not Vietnam – but did so out of friendship. As an Airborne Ranger combat engineer, his experiences were different from mine. He arrived in country six months prior to me. I found out he was wounded and recovering in an Army evacuation hospital in Japan when my father included that in one of his letters. Later I learned he had been a patient in the Intensive Care ward of the 67th Evacuation Hospital in Vietnam about a week prior to my reporting for duty there in mid-January, 1970. Coincidentally, the veteran I sat next to at Holliston’s Veterans Dinner last November was also an intensive care patient there that same month. Small world.

My friend and I were walking toward The Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., which came to Holliston 20 years ago from July 26th to August 2nd. I have t-shirts to prove it. That was where I first met Ron Turcotte, currently VFW Post 8507’s Chaplain. Ron shared with me his thoughts about that event. It reminded him of the first time he visited The Wall in Washington, D.C. on a cold night in January in the late 1980’s. (When I landed in Saigon in January of 1970 at 11:00 p.m. it was 92.) Ron said he was the only one there, which made for some somber viewing and reflection in front of the softly lit chevron-shaped, smooth-as-glass granite panels – a sight to behold, but at such a high price with so very many names etched upon it. In a thick reference book he found someone with the same last name as his, but no relation. A Marine, he was KIA on May 9, 1968, toward the end of the Tet Offensive, just shy of his 19th birthday – a life cut short of so many possibilities - “There but for the grace of God ….”

My daughter remembers visiting The Wall in Holliston three months after seeing the one in D.C. while we were on a family vacation. She was eleven at the time. We were there in April, 1999, during school vacation week – the same week of the Columbine massacre. She said at first she thought they had moved the original to Holliston and could not figure out how that could have been done. She remembers being struck by the number of names on the edifice, but it wasn’t until more recently when Bobby Blair et al. began posting placards on telephone poles in recognition of those dying in Afghanistan and Iraq that she realized how young most of those being honored were.

The Wall that Heals is scheduled for display next month from August 22 to August 25 in Bellingham at the high school baseball field on Blackstone Street. The Wall that Heals is a ¾ scale replica that is accompanied by a mobile education center with a digital search kiosk and other instructive components about the Vietnam War and facts about The Wall. It also has two thick paper directories that alphabetically list the names on the wall, which are arranged on its surface by date of causality. As Ron said, personal memories of Vietnam are fading, but never forget or fail to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I plan to make a visit, where I’ll probably shed some tears of my own, once again.

For more information you can visit https://www.vvmf.org/The-Wall-That-Heals/.

 

E-mail This Article

Comments (1)

I remember it when it came to town twenty years ago. Very moving, and sad to see all those names. I went to school with some of the men and I found their names.I hope to see it again when it comes to Bellingham. Thank You for your service Paul.

- Sheila Love | 7/27/19 8:45 AM

Advertisement

Advertisement

Recent Articles by Paul Deschenes:

Woodstock 50th Anniversary - Peace and Love

Woodstock remembrances, but none of us were there. Where were we instead? Where were you?

4

Continue ...

A Walk on the Moon

Where were you when ...? Some historical events and personal milestones have more significance than others, as do certain anniversaries, such as 1st, 25th, and 50th. Two significant historical and personal events coincided/collided for me on Sunday, July 20, 1969. It was my first full day in the Army and an earthling walked on the Moon.

1

Continue ...

Old Ironsides Commemorates D-Day

Photos courtesy of Tom Blair On Friday, June 7th, hundreds of active duty military and veterans were invited to be aboard the USS Constitution for a turn around in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. A handful of members from Holliston's American Legion Post #47 were fortunate enough to be among those in attendance.

1

Continue ...

VFW Scout of the Year Candidate

Continue ...

Black Box Theater

A Black Box theater was mentioned by Dr. Jackson, Superintendent of Schools, as something Holliston High School is currently lacking. What exactly is a Black Box theater?

2

Continue ...

Advertisement

Recent Articles in Local Lore:

The Wall Rolls Through to Bellingham

by Chris Cain

If you weren't downtown around 3:45 Tuesday afternoon, this is what you didn't get to see - yet.

Continue ...

Police Log for Week of August 11 - 17, 2019

by Paul Saulnier

Officer Obie dispatched to Underwood

2

Continue ...

Holliston Conservation Associates Are Hosting An Edible Plant Walk

by Mary Curran

Come out on Wednesday, August 21st at 6:30 PM. to find out how this plant--a red clover--has been used to treat diseases.

Continue ...

The Wall That Heals Will Pass Through Holliston

by Stephen Bradford

The 'Wall That Heals,' a 3/4 size replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be passing through Holliston on Tuesday afternoon around 3:15 p.m. Please join the Holliston Veterans at the Town Hall then to honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

1

Continue ...

Holliston’s Long and Glorious Baseball History: A 4-Part Series; Part IV

by Joanne Hulbert

Holliston High School baseball team, circa 1890 Part IV: Our 19th Century Baseball Roots

Continue ...

Advertisement