The traveling replica of the memorial wall honoring Iowa’s Vietnam veterans was retired Sunday after some 800 people visited it in recent days at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. The wood-and-vinyl wall was set on fire in a ceremony, much like the retiring of a battered American flag. Tom Van Atter, of Webster City, helped organize the event. Van Atter says it was a happy and sad occasion as the memorial not only lists the names of their buddies from Vietnam who were killed, missing or taken prisoner, but the wall itself has become a buddy. Webster City Mayor Gene Grey says it’s not possible to recognize all of the sacrifices made by the many veterans who have made our lives so good today.Bob Stebins, a spokesman for the Iowa State Veterans Affairs office, read part of a letter from Governor Vilsack at the event, as Vilsack is on a trade mission in Europe. In the letter, Vilsack called the traveling memorial wall an Iowa treasure. The wall was called a “fitting tribute to the 869 Iowans who lost their lives in Vietnam and the 29 brave soldiers who are missing in action or prisoners of war.” The 14-year-old wall was simply worn out. A replacement is being built, which, like the wall that was just burned, will tour the state on a trailer. It will cost 40-thousand dollars. For more information, surf to “www.iowavietnamtravelingmemorial.com”.
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