Building Community through Remembrance: The Wall that Heals Visits Rainier, Oregon

By Melanie Lowry, Education Outreach Intern

“People this far from Washington, D.C. should still get to see the Wall,” said David Placido, student and history club historian at Rainier Junior/Senior High School in Rainier, Oregon.

A gift of remembrance placed at the Wall That Heals by the Rainier Jr./Sr. High School History Club.

A gift of remembrance placed at the Wall That Heals by the Rainier Jr./Sr. High School History Club.

The Wall That Heals, a half-scale traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial and mobile education center, visited the City of Rainier from March 17 through March 22, 2015. The Rainier High School History Club, advised by social studies teacher Andrew Demko, was responsible for coordinating the Wall’s appearance at the Rainier City Park. The history club is active with student and community involvement.

For over a year, the history club has been researching local veterans that appear on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This project and curriculum, led by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, seeks to collect stories and photos of Vietnam veterans.

Rainier students like David Placido have been given the opportunity, through Hometown Heroes, to conduct research on individuals in the Rainier community. “I want veterans to receive the recognition they deserve”, said Placido.

Last year, Placido was given the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. and speak at the Library of Congress about his school’s successful Hometown Heroes project. The history club has researched the lives of veterans such as Sgt. Dennis Eugene Edge, a soldier from Rainier that was killed in action in Vietnam. Edge’s picture is now displayed in the Rainier High School cafeteria.  Local Vietnam Veterans such as James W. Owen have also assisted the club with their involvement in the Hometown Heroes project.

In light of  the students’ work through their Hometown Heroes project, having The Wall That Heals visit Rainier added value to the students’ education . Demko said that this event enhanced teamwork among the Rainier community, and helped to honor veterans of Columbia County. Even weeks after the event, “students are still coming to me wanting to talk about The Wall,” said Demko.

Local students tour the Wall That Heals in Rainier City Park.

Local students tour the Wall That Heals in Rainier City Park.

Placido also noticed the event’s impact on the Rainer High School community as a student saying, “Other kids from military families have told me a lot of good things about the event.”

The Wall That Heals has now visited over 350 cities and towns across the United States. It is clear that the Wall’s visit to Rainier was a community effort, involving veterans, students, teachers, and families alike.

To bring The Wall That Heals to your school community, visit VVMF’s website.

To learn about VVMF’s role in education, click here.

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