Vietnam veterans pay their respects at ‘Moving Wall’ honoring fallen comrades

In all, 1,161 Wisconsin military members died during the Vietnam War. Their names are etched into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. along with the rest of those who died. But now, people can also view them in Holmen.

“The Moving Wall” is a half-size reproduction of the national memorial and has traveled from one community to the next for the last 35 years. It draws in people from far and wide to honor those who never returned home.

From 1968 to 1969, Jerry Bertram served in the 9th infantry division of the United States Army.

“I did what I did for our country and I hope a lot of people respect that because we didn’t get that treatment when we came home,” said Bertram, who was at the opening ceremony for the wall.

Holmen is not Bertram’s home. He traveled from Eau Claire just to see the wall.

“I appreciate it every time I hear something like this. If I can make it, I make it,” Bertram said.

He said he has seen it in six different states so far.

“I look on the wall for the names of my buddies that I knew that got killed over there. In fact, I had a cousin who was killed over there,” Bertram said.

Members of the Holmen School District, Holmen American Legion, Holmen VFW and other organizations spent more than a year planning the event.

“This is the reason we’re doing it. We’re doing it for the community and for the people that are on the wall. We don’t want them to ever be forgotten,” said David Harrison, commander for American Legion Post #284.

The event is being used as an educational experience for those who visit.

“We’re going to have Vietnam vets on the ground at the wall to answer questions for any adults, any children,” Harrison said.

They hope to bring attention to their experiences during the conflict and how they were treated afterward.

“You ask any other Vietnam veteran– he’ll tell you. We were really considered worthless,” Bertrum said.

They hope to provide a proper homecoming to the veterans who never returned to their loved ones. And, seeing the names could create a connection with people who may not have had family or friends who are on the wall.

“Even if it doesn’t mean anything to them when they leave, that experience– it’ll be with them always,” Harrison said.

If you do go to visit the Moving Wall, there will be etching supplies available. That way, you take a memento of a loved one’s name.

The moving wall will be available for viewing outside Holmen High School until Saturday at 9 p.m. The wall will be disassembled Sunday, before heading off to its next site in Racine.

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