Site Summary for The Wall That Heals in Somerset, KY
Our journey to Somerset began with an escort starting in Batesville IN, where the Ride Captain from the IN Patriot Guard Riders, Tim Kieffer resides. Four bikes and a Batesville police officer led us to the Ohio border. We went through a small section of Ohio and stopped at the first rest area in Kentucky at Richwood. We opened the panels for the bikers and patrons of the rest area to see. At that point, we added another 40 bikers and proceeded to our second stop at Man O War Harley Davidson in Lexington, KY. While we were there the new Ride Captain got a 1 gallon bucket from the Harley Dealer and made an announcement about the building of the Education Center at the Wall and asks all to make a donation, where we collected $475.
We then proceeded on to the next stop at Wildcat Harley Davidson in London KY where we added more bikers. The dealership sold refreshments and food for the bikers. This was the last stop, and with 125 bikes we arrived at Somerset KY.
The JROTC helped us put up TWTH with assistance from members of the American Legion Honor Guard. The process went very smoothly. The JROTC left at 6:00 pm and the tent was assembled with the aid of the veterans.
On Monday morning breakfast was served to all prior to the commencement of the program. The program began with the parade of colors presented by Southwestern JROTC and Somerset American Legion Post 38 Honor Guard; the singing of the National Anthem by Vietnam Veteran, Claude Davis, and the Pledge of Allegiance by Somerset Mayor, Eddie Girdler.
Next, Lonnie Lawson, emcee; introduced Congressman Rogers. Rogers served in the Kentucky and North Carolina National Guard in addition to being chair of the Appropriations Committee is a member of the National Guard and Reserve Caucus. Rogers formally recognized and honored all Veterans and Veterans organizations.
The next speaker was Ken Lucas, KY Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Lucas represented Kentucky’s Fourth district in the US House of Representatives from 1999 to 2005. After graduating from the University of Kentucky, Mr. Lucas joined the US Air Force as a pilot serving on active duty, in the Reserves, and in the Air National Guard, ultimately attaining the rank of Major.
Next Jan Scruggs was introduced, where he announces the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Photo Project, and opening of TWTH for display to the public.
Emcee Lonnie Lawson announced that each day during the event, there will be a ceremony at noon and invited the public to attend.
Final key note speaker introduced was Ret. Brigadier General Dan Cherry, a Vietnam Veteran. BG Cherry shared his emotional story of healing and reconciliation. Forty years after the war ended he was reunited with a Vietnamese pilot he shot down in a dogfight near Hanoi, North Vietnam. He explained his emotions as the event was taking place and how it has affected his life. This is all detailed in his novel entitled “My Enemy…My Friend, a story of reconciliation from the Vietnam War.
Chaplain Clarence Floyd, Somerset American Legion Post Number 38 Honor Guard; recited the story of Taps. The ceremony concluded with a prayer, followed by the playing of Taps by Dr. Roger Lane.
Tuesday the event involved Somerset Armed Forces recruiting officials from all four branches in addition to the National Guard in the laying of the Wreath ceremony. Additionally, the event featured bagpiper Chris Paul, a Vietnam Veteran and member of the POW/MIA awareness group Task Force Omega Chapter 6 Campbell County KY, where he serves as the state chapter bagpiper.
On Wednesday members of the DAV and AMVETS spoke about the healing nature of the Wall.
Thursday SGT Jeanie Cottle spoke about the history of the flag concluded by Southwestern JROTC placing 200 miniature American Flags along the Wall.
Friday the names of 1058 service members from Kentucky who made the ultimate sacrifice were read by representatives of the local VFW and Pulaski Vets organizations.
On Saturday the closing ceremony was conducted by American Legion Post 38 Honor Guard with full military honors, presenting and retiring the colors, folding and presentation of the flag and the rifle volley. The ceremony was preformed inside the Center for Rural Development due to the very heavy down pour of rain.
On Sunday with the aid of one veteran and two employees of the Center, the Wall That Heals was disassembled and packed up to move on to the next site.