Replica of Vietnam Veteran War Memorial returning soon to Union County
by Mike Parks
INDIAN TRAIL – William ‘Bill’ Chadwick dreamed of bringing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall to Indian Trail. Once he accomplished that, he started dreaming about bringing it back.
And when the traveling memorial pulls into Indian Trail June 14 flanked by motorcycles and guided overhead by a Vietnam-era Cobra helicopter, though Chadwick won’t be there to see it, he’ll be in attendance in spirit to honor all those who gave their lives for their country.
Chadwick was instrumental in bringing the wall to the Indian Trail Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2423 in 2007. The wall, a replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C., travels the country so people who can’t make the trip to the nation’s capital can still feel the power of seeing the thousands of names of those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War and honor their sacrifice. As many as 40,000 people saw the wall in 2007.
“It’s something to walk up to the wall and see your loved one on there,” said Brian Boze, who served as a captain in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is now the post’s senior vice commander. Boze has a cousin whose name is engraved in the wall alongside thousands of others who died in the war.
Some time after the wall left Indian Trail last time, Chadwick started thinking about how to get it back. But he didn’t live to hear the news that the wall would be returning, dying after a battle with cancer in November 2011. His friends and loved ones celebrated his life at the post with a service with full military honors, and a gravestone marks the spot where the Vietnam veteran will forever remain at the post.
Two months later, the post learned the wall would be coming back, where it will sit just a few yards away from Chadwick’s gravestone.
Troy Comer, the post’s publicity chair, said Chadwick would be proud to know the wall is coming back, because the wall typically doesn’t make return trips to a town, and getting it to come is a tough financial endeavor for a group like the VFW post.
The group that manages the Moving Wall told the post “this was the best display and the most moving ceremony (they) had seen in 20 years of moving around the United States,” Comer said of Indian Trail’s time hosting it in 2007.
But to get it back the group had to raise at least $45,000. And they saw donations come in from all over the place. The town of Indian Trail gave $7,500; Matthews pitched in $5,500. And on Wednesday, June 6, just a few days before the wall comes to town, donations were still coming in.
Which is good, cause the post needs every cent. Saturday, June 2, was spent working to prepare for the wall, installing lights and brace boards for the wall to sit up against. There’s still flags to raise, tents to erect and military vehicles to situate on the grounds.
“We poured every little bit of the money into those improvements,” Comer said. But it will be all worth it when the 50,000 to 60,000 people start showing up later this month.
“It’s quite an honor to be selected again to host the Moving Wall,” Boze said. “To honor those that didn’t return home from the Vietnam War and as a symbol of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It’s a standing monument to their loved one that shows them that we as a country will never forget those who didn’t return home.”
The Moving Wall arrives June 14 and will stay at the post until June 18. People can come see the memorial at any time between then. The post is located at 100 VFW Lane in Indian Trail, off Indian Trail Road near the railroad tracks.