Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Emotions evoked, photos taken at the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall September 7, 2016

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This helmet was among several displayed inside a tent where I met a Vietnam War veteran Saturday afternoon in Faribault.

WE STAND INSIDE AN ARMY GREEN military tent viewing hand grenades, playing cards, helmets and an array of items I am certain trigger difficult memories for the man beside me. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War.

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A graphic reveals hiding places to soldiers.

A close-up of names on the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall.

A close-up of names on the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Even the soldiers' playing cards were military themed.

Military themed cards provided a diversion for soldiers during the Vietnam War.

I thank him for his service and ask about his time in Nam. He helped process soldiers’ bodies to be shipped home to loved ones. He says no more. But his pain is evident, confirmed by the man beside him. His brother remembers how his soldier sibling arrived home, clearly suffering. Today he’s OK, the aging veteran assures. That comforts me.

The veteran volunteering in the MIA-POW tent told me his wife sewed a pillow from this over-sized t-shirt.

The veteran volunteering in the MIA-POW tent told me his wife sewed a pillow from this over-sized t-shirt. It delivers a powerful message.

Inside a nearby tent, I stand beside another man, tall with a shock of thick white hair. He, too, served in Vietnam and I thank him. He is guarding displays that honor prisoners of war and those missing in action. This vet doesn’t share specifics either. But when I ask if the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall displayed across the way at the Rice County Fairgrounds and related events help, he says, yes. That comforts me as I hug him and exit the tent with How Great Thou Art coursing through loudspeakers.

Grief in a note and mums left at the wall in honor of Rich Lozinski, Class of 1958, Minneota, Minnesota.

Grief in a note and mums left at the traveling wall.

I pause, remove my eyeglasses, wipe tears from my eyes.

A Vietnam veteran views the traveling wall on Saturday afternoon.

A Vietnam War veteran views the traveling wall on Saturday afternoon.

If visiting the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall and related items recently showcased in Faribault impacts me this much, how much more were veterans and their loved ones affected?

The traveling wall drew thousands to Faribault during a several day showing at the Rice County Fairgrounds.

The traveling wall drew thousands to Faribault during a recent several day showing at the Rice County Fairgrounds.

Twice I toured the temporary memorial site in Faribault. Observing. Touching the raised letters of names on the wall. Photographing. Listening. And, in my mind, remembering the turbulence of the Vietnam War and the protests that accompanied it and how these veterans suffered in war and back home in the U.S.

I lifted my camera and pointed the lens down at a panel filled with names of soldiers.

I lifted my camera and pointed the lens down at a panel filled with names of soldiers.

Nothing brings war home quite like a 360-foot long replica memorial wall or speaking to a veteran.

Visitors left bouquets to honor fallen soldiers.

Visitors left bouquets to honor fallen soldiers.

Ceremonial feathers and a peace pipe honor Blair Two Crow.

Ceremonial feathers and a peace pipe honor Blair Two Crow of Shannon County, South Dakota. Read his story by clicking here.

Looking down at Blair Two Crow's memorial placed next to the traveling wall.

Looking down at Blair Two Crow’s memorial placed next to the traveling wall.

A framed letter of commendation with a soldier's notes was left at the wall.

A framed letter of commendation with a soldier’s note was left at the wall. The letter was written to David M. Linders and signed by the lieutenant commander of the U.S. Navy.

More flowers left at the wall.

More flowers left at the wall.

Beer, cigarettes and a lighter to remember a soldier.

Beer, cigarettes and a lighter to remember a soldier.

I witnessed a reverence at the wall, a personal connection to the names inscribed thereon. Flowers, a peace pipe, a letter, cans of Busch Light, two cigarettes and a red lighter—all honored soldiers.

A woman does rubbings of names on the wall.

A woman does rubbings of names on the wall.

These men and women were loved.

Multiple wreaths featured words of remembrance.

Multiple wreaths featured words of remembrance.

The ultimate honorary salute to a fallen soldier.

The ultimate honorary salute to a fallen soldier.

Thousands remembered as they visited the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall in Faribault.

Thousands remembered as they visited the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall in Faribault.

And they are remembered.

FYI: Check back for more photos from the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall and related items showcased during a recent 6-day event in Faribault.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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14 Responses to “Emotions evoked, photos taken at the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    This was almost more than I could bear to read and look at. You understand I know.

  2. I have tears in my eyes reading your post and then I smiled with the photo with the beer cans, cigs and lighter. Honor – Respect – Love

    It makes me think about my uncle who passed back in November and his service to his country and being over in Vietnam. My other uncle who passed recently served and did a few tours over in Iraq.

    Thanks so much for sharing. I recently looked back on the photos I took when I visited the traveling wall a few years back in Reno.

  3. Norma Says:

    I remember how quiet it was when I visited the wall right after it was put up. I saw the name of a young man from the town I was living in at the time. Very touching.

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience for those who were unable to attend.

  5. Marneymae Says:

    Eyes tearing up reading this…

  6. Don Says:

    You hear a number and it’s just a number but to see the wall and all the names on it brings reality to light, oh so many names……………………………..

    Thanks for the pictures!

  7. Sue Ready Says:

    wonderful observations and photos-it certainly evokes a lot of emotions from a turbulent time period


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