Governor Parson Scheduled To Speak at The Wall In Sept.

The Douglas County Veterans Memorial Association received good news this week when they were contacted by the governors office to confirm that barring an emergency that requires attention, Governor Mike Parson will be the keynote speaker at The Wall That Heals in September.  According to organizer Larry Morrison, this is a great boost to our efforts to make this one of the largest and best events to ever be hosted in Ava.  

“This has definitely been a boost to our morale and hopefully means a lot more people will be visiting Ava and will attend the honors ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 22,” says Bernie Holstine, commander. 

The second speaker, who has not been announced, has not yet been confirmed.

The honors ceremony to be held on Saturday will have many events to honor  the 58000 names on The Wall, but also to honor the 1422 names of Missouri veterans whose names also appear on The Wall.  

A special recognition ceremony is now being planned to recognize the five veterans from Ava and Douglas County whose names are on The Wall as well.   Those veterans are David Knight, George Lakey, Dale Posey, Lenry Longston and Lester McGinnis.

The Douglas County Veterans Assn. is asking for help and has a special request.  The Association is seeking family members who can provide specific information on each of the five veterans, as the Douglas County Veterans are planning a special recognition and awards ceremony for the five men.  They need to get personal information and military information on each one.  Friends or family members who know or have information on any of these individuals are asked to please contact the Douglas County Veterans Memorial Association and share the information.  

“We are looking for service dates, time in Vietnam, school history and, if possible, combat medals and awards, said Irvin Reynolds.  “If someone has a copy of their military discharge (DD 214), that would be helpful.  We could make a copy and include it in the special recognition.”  

Time is winding down as the Douglas County Veterans Memorial Association continues the pace of preparing for the event in September when the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be hosted in Ava at the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association facility, north of Ava, from September 20-23.

Preparations to escort The Wall to Ava are currently underway.  

The Patriot Guard, Vietnam Veteran Motorcycle riders, and all other riders who would like to participate as an escort will meet the truck carrying The Wall at the airport in Lebanon, Mo. at 12 noon on Tuesday, September 18.  Briefing of the escort riders will commence at 12:45 and the ride will begin with kickstands up at 1:15 p.m.  The Wall will travel through Grovespring, Hartville, Mansfield and Ava, and after traveling to the south intersection in Ava, the group will turn north on Business 5 toward the square.  The convoy will exit the square traveling north past Ava schools, and arrive at the Fox Trotter facility at approximately 3 p.m.

The truck will park on site and the information trailer set up.  The exact location of The Wall will also be determined.  Volunteers will begin setting The Wall in place at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.  It is estimated the task will take ten hours.

At this time the Douglas County Veterans Association is still seeking volunteers willing to assist with erecting The Wall. Twenty volunteers are needed at the Fox Trotter facility at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, with willingness to work most of the day.   The same volunteers are asked to be available Sunday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. to take down the wall and load it on the truck for travel to the next destination.  The  2 p.m. work time was selected to allow individuals to attend church on Sunday morning, and still have time to visit The Wall before it is dismantled.  

The Wall is 375 feet long and seven and a half feet tall at its tallest point.  It contains over 58,000 names of the veterans who were killed in Vietnam.  

This wall is different than the previous wall that toured the U.S.  The ‘older’ wall did not allow for “rubbing” of names, but the new wall, however is made of material that allows rubbings so the public will be able to trace the names of their friends and loved ones.  Another feature of this event is the accompaniment of the VA Veterans Health Van. The van will be parked at the site, with VA counselors available.  They will also have the capability to make dog tags for individuals, and veterans can have personal dog tags made.  

In addition, family members can also get an “In Memory” dog tag of their family member.  A memory dog tag does not contain all the personal information a regular dog tag contains.  The dog tags are free. 

Food cannot be sold or served while The Wall is on site, but the Douglas County Veterans have permission to serve workers and volunteers on Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the official opening of The Wall.  The DCVMA has also developed a special memento which will be given to all rider escorts and workers to remember The Wall in Ava during 2018.   During the event, the DCVMA will provide water to visitors, and all Wall activities and water will be free  to the public. 

The event is open to the public, and everyone is invited to visit the Wall and see one of the most popular memorials in Washington DC.

The site is open 24/7 while in town, and volunteers to serve in all capacities, are needed around the clock.  Those interested in working and being a part of this once in a lifetime event should contact Larry Morrison, (417) 849-1875 and place your name on the list.

Sponsorships are still available.  Sponsors receive benefits in addition to ad recognition in the honors and memory book.  If you know a business or individual who has not received information and would like to consider being a sponsor of this event, please contact Larry Morrison or any member of the Douglas County Veterans Memorial Association.