Thursday, March 27, 2008

American Veterans Traveling Tribute

This past Saturday, I was able to go see the American Veterans Traveling Tribute which had come to Georgetown, Texas. This tribute was sponsored by the Williamson County Sheriff's Posse. One very nice lady I met there, whose elderly father had served (I believe in the Air Force) and whose brother was lost in Vietnam - serving as a Marine helicopter pilot, helped me out. She gave me the supplies to do a rubbing of the name of my adopted Vietnam MIA, MSG James W. Holt, and also provided me with the weekend schedule, and an information sheet about AVTT and The Traveling Wall Foundation. They call their exhibits the "Cost of Freedom" Memorials. The main piece of the memorials is the replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall, which is one of several that travels the country (the others being known as "The Moving Wall", "The Dignity Wall", the "Wall That Heals").

The next most notable exhibit is a "Cost of Freedom Memorial", which is a series of displays of gold dogtags with the names of all service members "who gave their lives for our freedom, since Vietnam". It is here I found Kile's dogtag.

A 9/11 Memorial is incorporated into the standing displays of dogtags.

Also part of the exhibit is the "Walk of Heroes" - a series of stand-up boards that "pay tribute and educate all about our country's history and the conflicts the USA has been involved in to insure our freedom", going back to the Revolutionary War; and a World War II "display of pictures and information to pay specific tribute to these veterans."

When I arrived, General Graham, a local retired 2-star, was speaking. I wish I could have heard all of his remarks, instead of just the end of them. After General Graham, someone from the Sheriff's Posse acknowledged the military service of members of the posse, followed by the Retiring of the Colors by some Boy Scouts. There was a bit of a break from speakers, when I was able to take some photos and do the rubbing.

About one o'clock, they began the ceremonies for the Ride to the Wall. It included a member of AVTT speaking, including the reading of a very moving story told from the perspective of someone whose name is on the wall, speaking to those of us, particularly veterans, "on the other side" of the Wall. Before the Ride to the Wall for those with motorcycles, there was a "Wall Touching Ceremony", where everyone was invited to go to the Wall or one of the "Cost of Freedom" displays and touch it, or a particular name. I chose to find Kile's name.

After the touching of the Wall, it was time for the motorcycle riders to begin the Ride of Honor, in while those of us who weren't riders were invited to form a sort of "receiving line" for the riders. General Graham volunteered to stand at the apex of the Wall and salute each rider as they passed. Some other veterans stood either against the wall, or on opposite the Wall, also saluting each rider.

I was glad I was able to catch this moment with my camera:

Also, I can help but smile when I see this smiling old veteran, sitting on a bench with one hand holding onto his cane, offering a salute to each passing rider with the other. I did not speak to him, or what I assumed were his family sitting by him, but I can only wonder what this fine gentleman had seen during his service to our nation:


Anonymous said...

Nice post and great pics! I've got a huge lump in my throat.....


CyberPastor said...

Thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures with us. I've been on vacation for a week and I'm catching up on the blogs, and this one makes my day!

Miss Ladybug said...

Glad to hear it, CP!

I wish I could have listened to your broadcast from the VFF National Heroes Tour the other day, but I was at work :-(