By Larry Morrison
The Douglas County Veterans are working at a frantic pace with activities and putting plans in place to host this huge national event. The Wall That Heals will be coming to Ava in September.
Ava is the only location in Missouri and Arkansas to host The Wall in 2018.
“Hosting an event like this is so much more than talking. It takes planning, coordination, a tremendous amount of phone calls and letter writing,” says Bernie Holstine, commander. “It also takes many workers who volunteer their time and efforts to support this project.”
Holstine also said projects we are working on includes raffles, finding sponsors, supporters and volunteers. It takes many hours on a continuous basis to bring the plan together. Since being notified, we have had contact with The Wall personnel in Washington, D.C. several times, Missouri State Highway Patrol, County Sheriff departments in several counties to coordinate highway travel with Patriot Guard riders; city councils of Ava, Mansfield, Hartville and Lebanon to gain approval of travel routes for the convoy.
We have written over 500 letters to businesses and sponsors inviting them to become a part of this event. We received approval of The Wall logo and have had T-shirts printed, and are selling shirts as part of our ongoing efforts to get the community and sponsors involved. Periodically, we submit articles that update on the status of The Wall, and send them to over 125 newspapers in Missouri and Arkansas. We have also contacted approximately 50 radio stations and 25 television stations.
We continue in our outreach with over 125 school districts in Missouri notifying them the historic wall, a national monument, is coming to Ava. These schools are invited to plan student field trips to Ava and allow students to learn about the history of Vietnam War and the purpose of The Wall. Several schools have responded indicating their plans to attend.
We are also sponsoring several raffles which allow individuals to win money. One is the jar of coins. Individuals must guess the amount of money in the jar, and the person who gets the closest without going over gets the money. Two raffles include a quilt raffle which is a musical quilt with pictures of musical instruments on it, and another is the Patriot ceramic cross decorated in red, white and blue, in honor of George Lakey, an Ava graduate who was killed in Vietnam. The cross includes verses John 3:16 and John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, but to lay down his life for his friends.” The cross is 31 inches tall. Individuals will be able to purchase the cross ready for framing. It is on display at the DCVMA post.
One of the bigger fundraiser projects is our effort to giveaway a Can-Am side by side, with a dump bed. The vehicle is a four-wheel drive and has retail value of $17,000. Along with the side by side, we are giving away four guns, two rifles and two pistols. A drawing will be each Saturday beginning in August with the side by side to be given away on Saturday, Sept. 22. Tickets for the side by side and four guns are $20 each.
We are setting up tables at several area locations and grocery stores to sell the tickets and T-shirts, each weekend from now through August.
Additional coordination is also being done with state and local agencies to provide carts for the handicapped, medical facilities, and a radio trailer from EMA. We will also need enough water to provide to over 10,000 visitors, 24/7 security and chaplains, parking attendants and over 100 volunteers to help make the event successful.
Of course, an important part of the ceremony will be to coordinate attendees and keynote speakers. We have invited some very high profile individuals to be a part of this event and will keep everyone updated as plans are finalized.
Our latest effort to raise money is placing cans at area businesses. Over 50 cans in the multi county area will help finance our efforts. We are asking everyone to please consider putting your change from that particular business in the can. Money will be collected regularly and cans will remain in place until The Wall arrives in Ava.
We are still seeking sponsors. If any individual or business would like to be a part of this event and help honor our veterans please contact the Douglas County Veterans for one of our brochures which explains how to become a sponsor.
Five Ava veterans who died in Vietnam are on The Wall. At the Wall we will have a special ceremony honoring those five individuals. Each person in this community has been affected by the sacrifice of these individuals. We invite you to be a part of honoring their memory.
Individuals who would like to become a part of the Douglas County Veterans Memorial Association and volunteer or work with this event are invited to contact us for membership, sponsor or volunteer information.
We Serve – Because We Care