By Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Vietnam veterans from the Colorado Springs community were invited to take part in a Welcome Home ceremony at Kit Carson Memorial Park June 11 as part of the opening of “The Moving Wall” display.
“The Moving Wall,” a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was on display at the park from June 11 to June 15.
Welcome Home ceremonies for Vietnam veterans have become more common during the last five years, with several states declaring March 30 as Vietnam Veterans Day. Fifty years after the end of the Vietnam War, these brave men and women are getting the welcome home befitting their service and sacrifice.
“This is the first welcome back Vietnam veterans ceremony I’ve attended,” said retired Lt. Gen. Edward G. Anderson III, the event’s guest speaker. “There were no ceremonies back then. Fortunately, the nation has corrected that situation.”
The ceremony opened with the more than 100 veterans parading before the over 100 military, local community leaders and civilians in attendance. The parade was followed by opening remarks from Maj. Gen. Ray F. Gonsalves, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson commanding general.
“The 4th Infantry Division is honored to have you here,” Gonsalves said. “We are eternally grateful for your service.”
Gonsalves also spoke about the significance of “The Moving Wall” and how such a simple memorial can spark so many emotions.
“The Wall represents the tremendous sacrifice of a generation,” Gonsalves said. “The Wall accomplishes its goal with silence. It’s a place to remember, mourn and long for the lost.”
Much like the Memorial in Washington, family members made rubbings of the names of loved ones lost during the conflict, while veterans took time to reflect in front of the names of fallen comrades. A small bouquet was placed at the center of the Wall as well.
Anderson, who deployed to Vietnam in December 1969, spoke about the lasting impact Vietnam has had on all those who served.
“I know all of us have vivid memories of our tours in Vietnam,” Anderson said. “Some are pleasant, and some are not so pleasant.”
He said the combat memories can be so strong simply because service members spent more than 200 days in combat, on average, during a tour in Vietnam. The Wall is a visual reminder of the sacrifice made by the military in Vietnam, he added.
“[The Wall] shows the tremendous and incredible sacrifice for our nation by our military,” Anderson said.
Gonsalves closed with a final thank you to the veterans, both for their service and for paving the road for future generations of service members.
“You have proudly passed the torch to today’s Soldiers,” he said.
John Devitt came up with the idea for “The Moving Wall” during the dedication for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982. He wanted to bring the experience of the Memorial to those who couldn’t get to Washington. He worked with other Vietnam veterans to create “The Moving Wall,” with the first display in 1984, and it has been traveling the country ever since, according to themovingwall.org.