Stock­ton hosts Viet­nam Mov­ing Wall for five days

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Front Page - By Lori Gil­bert

STOCK­TON — Lo­cal Viet­nam veter­ans are re­al­ists.

They don’t know what the fu­ture may hold for them, many still suf­fer­ing the ef­fects of hav­ing fought in the Viet­nam War 50 years ago. So they’ve poured their en­ergy into mak­ing the five-day visit of the Viet­nam Mov­ing Wall, which opened Thurs­day, some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary.

“It’s our last hurrah,” said Bob Ap­pler, who with oth­ers in the Veter­ans of For­eign Wars and Amer­i­can Le­gion posts has worked to co­or­di­nate events sur­round­ing the visit.

A rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony opened the wall’s visit to We­ber Point at 3 p.m. Thurs­day, but a cer­e­mony at noon Satur­day is likely to be the most emo­tion­ally im­pact­ful. Sur­viv­ing veter­ans and their spouses/part­ners/sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers will be rec­og­nized.

“When we left Viet­nam we promised two things,” Ap­pler said. “To never for­get those we served with and never leave a man be­hind. With the re­cov­ery of Capt. (Richard L.) White­sides (in 2014), all of Stock­ton’s sons are home now. And we kept our prom­ise that we would re­mem­ber.”

This is the sec­ond visit to Stock­ton and the third over­all to San Joaquin County of the Viet­nam Mov­ing Wall, a half­size replica of the Viet­nam Veter­ans Memo­rial Wall in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. The trav­el­ing ex­hibit is made of alu­minum in­stead of gran­ite, but bears the names of all 58,322 Amer­i­cans who lost their lives be­cause of that con­flict.

The wall was in Stock­ton in 2008 and Lodi in 2002.

“In 2008 as soon as it left, I put in pa­per­work to bring it back,” said Tino Adame, Amer­i­can Le­gion state chair­man of vet­eran af­fairs and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and for­mer com­man­der of the Karl Ross Amer­i­can Le­gion post. “We’re older now, and a lot of our friends and rel­a­tives aren’t here. It puts a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on it, that this might be for a lot of us, our last hurrah.”

Veter­ans groups ar­ranged for the mov­ing wall’s visit to Stock­ton in 2008, but Adame asked the city for help with the cost this time, and it was read­ily given.

“Tino Adame came to a coun­cil meet­ing and said (the Karl Ross Amer­i­can Le­gion Post) wanted to bring it to Stock­ton,” said Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Di­rec­tor John Alita. “As we started to talk to him about how the city might help . ... we thought it would be a great honor, a great thing to bring it back to the city.”

The city of Stock­ton con­trib­uted $12,000 to the cost, in­clud­ing the ex­pense of 24-hour se­cu­rity at We­ber Point, as the gates will be open to­day through Mon­day for vis­i­tors.

Dur­ing that time, all of the names on the wall will be read. Coun­selors will be on hand for veter­ans who may need some­one to speak to, Ap­pler said.

“A lot still suf­fer from (post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der),” Ap­pler said. “We will have coun­selors there day and night be­cause we fig­ured (night­time) is when PTSD veter­ans will show up.”

Adame said he hopes more than veter­ans show up. The wall is for and about them, but there’s more to it.

“This isn’t taught in schools,” Adame said. “It’s up to us, our gen­er­a­tion, to teach the com­mu­nity and our younger gen­er­a­tion. We need to teach them what the wall is about and to not for­get these men and women. It’s his­tory. Stock­ton is go­ing through his­tory these next few days at We­ber Point.”

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