Walls are usually built to separate one side from another or to keep something in and something out.
But the Vietnam Veterans Memorial’s best-known feature, known simply as “the Wall,” which opened to the public in 1982, brings people together. The 58,261 names of this nation’s Vietnam War dead and missing are inscribed on its black, polished, reflective marble surface seen and touched by the estimated three million visitors that the Wall receives every year. It eloquently expresses the grief and honor, as well as respect and pride, that the people of the United States hold for all the veterans who served and for those servicemen and women that gave their lives in service to their country during the war.
A mobile though no less powerful version of the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial Wall came to Bishop during the 2011 Memorial Day week, evoking much the same feelings in visitors as the original Wall in Washington, D.C.
This past Saturday evening, Oct. 13, the Point Man organization from Lancaster came to Bishop to thank the men and women of VFW Post 8988 in Bishop for hosting the Vietnam Traveling War Memorial Wall at Bishop City Park from May 27 through June 2 in celebration of Memorial Day in 2011.
The Point Man Antelope Valley had agreed to be the designated guardian of the mobile Wall. PMAV is a nonprofit, faith-based organization and an outreach ministry of Journey Church of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster. Many of its members belong to the local VFW.
The half-scale mobile replica of the Antelope Valley Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial wall was first unveiled on Nov. 13, 2009 after taking five years to build. There are exacting requirements to display the Wall that take months to fulfill, but the Bishop VFW was more than up to the task.
Mike Bertell, PMAV president, was joined Saturday by fellow PMAV member and Vietnam veteran Glen Nester.
Bertell spoke to just how difficult it can be to host the Wall. Permits, security arrangements, electrical and landscaping requirements, and specifications on how it must be displayed, all had to be addressed.
The Bishop VFW did such a wonderful job of presenting the Wall that, according to Bertell, “We felt we needed to honor them.”
The specially-made award plague given to the Bishop VFW from the PMAV features on one side a replica of a wall panel with 75 names inscribed on it, and, mounted off to the other side, a Vietnam Republic Service Medal and Ribbon. A Certificate of Appreciation was also given along with the plague.
Accepting on behalf of VFW Post 8988 were Senior Vice-Commander Earl McWilliams and Commander Earl Underhill. It was a moving and emotional award ceremony that left few untouched.
In accepting the award and certificate, Underhill said, “I want to thank the men and women of the VFW Post and Auxiliary, Eric Johnson and his crew from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the local plant nurseries, the City of Bishop, the County of Inyo, the Fairgrounds, the Owens Valley Contractors and Vendors Association, and many others. Just being a part of hosting this Wall was an incredible privilege and honor.”