| It has been a busy month for The Wall That Heals. Starting in Vinita, Okla., at American Legion Post 40 on October 7, we have crisscrossed the entire nation! From Oklahoma, we traveled to Washington City, Utah, then up to Auburn, Wash., outside of Tacoma. From Washington, we were headed to Bass Pro Shops outside of Dallas, Texas, for Veterans Day, then we completed a nearly 3,500-mile trek across the country, to Sebring, Fla.
It seems that, at every stop, we encounter a person or story that reminds us of the value of this traveling Wall replica. But it was in Washington state that we encountered one of the most moving events we have experienced so far.
Richard Beard, a Vietnam veteran, was one of the volunteers at the Auburn, Wash. stop. One morning, he noticed a man standing in front of The Wall, obviously distraught. He walked up to the man and said, “Welcome home, brother” and gave him a hug. The man broke down in tears for a moment as he and Richard walked off to the side and exchanged stories for a few hours.Later that day, the man returned. As Richard greeted him, the man shook his hand firmly and wrapped his other arm around Richard’s back, giving him the man-hug that can only come from brothers in arms. He turned to Richard and said, “Now I can go home and love my family.” As their grips parted, Richard was left with the familiar weight of brass, lead and copper in his right hand. This was the bullet that the man had planned to use on himself that evening. He had come down to The Wall earlier that day to say goodbye to his brothers for the last time.
The Wall That Heals brings together the men and women who experienced the pain of war and allows them to publicly and proudly honor and remember their friends, family and neighbors who didn’t come home. It is VVMF’s mission to support this healing and teach future generations the importance of remembering our fallen. We hope to be able to continue our mission in your hometown in the years to come.