MANISTIQUE, Mich. (WZMQ) – This weekend, a traveling memorial is on display in Manistique.
The Vietnam Moving Memorial Wall opened to the public on Thursday, August 10 at the Manistique Marina. The wall lists the names of the service members who gave their lives or went missing in action during the Vietnam War.
“In 2018, we brought the wall here,” said Larry Billings, Manistique and Schoolcraft County All-Vets Commander. “The All-Vets committee got together and put forth the effort to get the wall back here to Manistique for its 50th anniversary. It’s been a huge undertaking but well worth the time and the effort.”
For those who served—like Frances Smith, who was stationed at a naval hospital in New York from 1964 to 1966—it is an emotional experience.
“There was so much dissension and so much disrespect for the veterans,” Smith said. “It’s just nice to see that, finally, they’re getting the recognition. We didn’t have any ticker-tape parades. In fact, the first welcome home I got was last year. There’s a lot of veterans that never got it, never received it.”
Another way veterans are being honored at the marina this weekend is through a museum of military memorabilia. The collection is on display courtesy of Silver Dollar Trading Company.
“There are so many untold stories,” said co-owner Rick Johnson. “If we could just sit down, take the time, document, pull those things out of the attic and closet and dust them off. That way the future knows what we did. A great nation, but we need to get a little bit of pride back in our military.”
The Escanaba Vet Center was onsite on Thursday with information on resources for veterans. Veteran Outreach Program Specialist Adam Hongisto says it is exciting for veterans to have access to a national memorial close to home.
“It shows that the local community honors our veterans who have fallen in Vietnam and the veterans who are still with us,” he said. “A lot of our veterans don’t have the capacity to go to Washington D.C., but by bringing this to them, they can still check out the wall.”
The Vietnam Moving Memorial Wall is open for viewing 24 hours a day until the closing ceremony at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, August 14. The informational and war museum tents are open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday and until 11:00 a.m. on Monday.
Billings encourages the community to take a walk through the memorial, read each name, and remember those who gave it all.
“This is part of our history,” said Billings. “Whether you agreed with it or not, it’s part of our history, it’s part of something that everybody should learn, and it’s part of something that everybody should respect and honor.”
Click here for a full list of events taking place at the Vietnam Moving Memorial Wall this weekend, including a parade, appearances by state officials, and a POW/MIA ceremony.