OSKALOOSA — The Wall That Heals has served both as a means for local Vietnam veterans to remember their fallen comrades, and for families and children to learn more about the Vietnam War.
The Wall That Heals arrived in Oskaloosa Tuesday afternoon and has been open to the public until Sunday evening. People flocked to the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., during its stay at the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds.
Many people viewed the memorial on the Fourth of July.
“There’s a nice crowd here right now,” local veteran Dave Polkowske said early Friday afternoon.
Although there was light rain during the memorial’s opening ceremony, the weather cooperated through the Fourth of July.
There were between 100 and 150 people on hand for the opening ceremony Wednesday evening, which featured retired Gen. Tommy Franks as the keynote speaker.
“The weather, the way it was, I was surprised by the crowd,” Polkowske said of the opening ceremony.
Polkowske said both veterans and families with relatives whose names are on the wall have visited the monument. Some Vietnam veterans have come late at night to pay their respects, he added.
Just as people do at the memorial in Washington, D.C., people have left items at The Wall That Heals in Oskaloosa. People have left sheets of paper, flowers, a can of snuff.
“Things that remind people about the people on the wall,” Polkowske said.
The Wall That Heals Site Manager Bob Dobek said that items left at the monument during its stops around the country are collected and cataloged at the local level so they can be used to help educate the public about the Vietnam War.
Dobek said that the items left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. , are collected and catalogued and stored for inclusion in the upcoming Education Center to be built across the street from the memorial in the nation’s capital.