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NEW RICHMOND — Freedom Park in New Richmond, WI will host a welcome home long overdue and pay homage to a sacrifice not to be forgotten, September 10 – 14, 2015. Stronger Together-Operation Welcome Home is in honor of the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War.
“We have been given a tremendous opportunity for healing in Honoring our Vietnam Veterans,” said Scottie Ard, director of Stronger Together – Operation Welcome Home. “Many of the young men who fought and died in Vietnam were drafted, the average age was 22; they answered the call and fought valiantly. We have a choice to volunteer and in so doing, honor our Vietnam Veterans and our commitment to the freedoms we enjoy,” added Ard.
Denny and Mary Handrahan of Glenwood City, WI, are volunteering in Honor of Denny’s brother, Staff Sergeant Eugene Allen Handrahan who was listed as MIA on October 10, 1968. Mary Handrahan is encouraging everyone to volunteer. This event is a great honor and a rare opportunity for our community to show our support for Vietnam Veterans and honor the sacrifices that have not been recognized,” said the Handrahans. To volunteer in the Glenwood City Area – Contact Mary Handrahan at 715-265-7664, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event will host the “Moving Wall,” a half size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., the Canadian Memorial Wall as well as numerous displays including Historical Impressions – America’s First 10,000 Day War which is a 36,000 piece collection of Vietnam War artifacts. The “Moving Wall,” was created by John Devitt, Gary Shears and numerous Vietnam Veterans to bring the healing of the Washington D.C. memorial to those who could not make the trip. The “Moving Wall,” is inscribed with the 58,307 names of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Among the names are 1,161 Wisconsin soldiers.
Daily programs include a “Patriot Day, 911 Observance,” on Friday, September 11. On Saturday, September 12, Former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Ray Boland, will be one of the featured speakers. Boland enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard in January 1956 at Stevens Point and entered active-duty military service in 1961. He remained on continuous active duty status with the U.S. Army for 30 years. He served two tours of combat duty in Vietnam and also was a brigade commander in the 3rd Infantry Division in Germany and a battalion commander in Hawaii. After serving as garrison commander of Fort McCoy, Wisconsin from 1988 to 1991, he retired from the military with the rank of Colonel. His military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart. In February 1992, Col. Boland was appointed Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans. As secretary he oversaw support to the states’ nearly one half million veterans until his retirement in 2003.
Boland will be joined by Charles Hang, CG/US-SGU (Special Guerilla Unit) on Sunday, September 13, State Senator Sheila Harsdorf and Representative John Murtha will present. Honors ceremonies will follow the programs on September 12 and 13. The “Moving Wall,” is open 24 hours a day with displays open 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
The Veterans motorcycle escort will accompany the “Moving Wall,” and the Canadian Wall to Freedom Park on Sept. 10. Veterans wishing to join the motorcycle escort should register at www.facebook.com/themovingwallnrwi. Information will be sent prior to the event date. Citizens are asked to Welcome the Wall on Knowles Ave. between 11:30 a.m. – noon on Sept.10.
“The committee has worked very hard to ensure that every objective for the 50th has been addressed. We are honored to have the opportunity to honor our Vietnam Veterans and provide information and education to the generations, but more importantly, we want every Vietnam Veteran to experience the deep gratitude we have for their service and sacrifice,” said Ard.
The attention to detail has also sparked the attention of the DOD’s 50th Commemoration Office. Representatives from the Virginia based office will be in attendance at the event to observe and document the activities.
But the Honors don’t stop; on July 8, 2015 in a Congressional ceremony, 500 Vietnam Veterans received the 50th Commemorative lapel pin. The lapel pins will go into full production in mid-winter for commemorative partners. Stronger Together – Operation Welcome Home will be receiving 3000 lapel pins for presentation to Vietnam Veterans who served from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location. Vietnam Veterans wishing to receive the lapel pin must be in attendance at one of the ceremonies on Sept.12 or Sept.13.
For additional information visit www.facebook.com/themovingwallnrwi