As the Memorial Day holiday approaches American families prepare to celebrate the beginning of the fullness of summer and the joy that comes with outdoor activities. The spirit of the holiday should not be lost, however. Memorial Day stands as a hallowed tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.
To commemorate the occasion locally, the Hall County Board of Supervisors has issued a proclamation recognizing May 23 through May 27 as Veteran’s Appreciation Week. The proclamation pays tribute to all who served “from the Civil War, the War to End all Wars, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as well as Gulf War deployments around the world to Iraq, Afghanistan and countless others by air, land and sea in support of the United States.”
A highlight of the week will be an exhibition of a three-quarter scale size replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The traveling wall measures 375 feet long and stands up to 7½ feet tall. Former mayor Jay Vavricek spearheaded the effort to bring the America Veterans Traveling Tribute Wall to Grand Island.
The wall will arrive by truck at Bosselman’s Travel Center at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, and then be escorted by Legion riders and the Nebraska State Patrol to the United Veterans Club, arriving around 3:45 p.m.
Residents are encouraged to salute the motorcade along the route which will travel north on Highway 281 to Old Potash, then east to Webb Road, north to Capital Avenue, and then east to the United Veterans Club.
On Thursday, May 23, the wall will be set up at the Hall County Veterans Memorial Park and the official opening ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. Families, and friends of veterans and the public are welcome to attend the opening ceremony and view “the Wall That Heals” any time until the wall is taken down after Memorial Day ceremonies. The 40th annual Memorial Day services will begin at 10 a.m. with patriotic music and then the ceremony begins at 11 a.m.
Many area Vietnam veterans have made the Hero Flight trips to Washington, D.C., to see the permanent memorial. The 58,267 names on the replica wall are etched in the surface just like the original memorial and visitors may capture the names of their honored veterans on paper as keepsakes.
As noted by Hall County veteran services officer and Hero Flight chairman Don Shuda, “By visiting the wall, the story goes, if you touch the wall, it will touch you back ... They can just have that knowing that they served their country and they did what was asked of them.”