It all began last November with a suggestion from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 966 Commander Jim Thebaut and, like Topsy, it just grew, to include Brookings Lions Club, Elks Lodge 1934, Brookings Emblem Club 265, Daughters of the American Revolution Cape Sebastian chapter, and Christian Family Fellowship Church Choir, plus additional organizations and more than 100 individual volunteers.
It was a magnificent outpouring of community support with donations of both time and money to bring the memorial wall to Brookings and schedule a minimum of three volunteers working in two-hour shifts, to keep the wall and information about the wall available 24 hours a day and from 1 p.m. Thursday until the closing ceremony, 2 p.m. Monday, June 28.
The guest of honor, Robert Maxwell, the only living holder of the Medal of Honor in Oregon, told the audience, “It takes courage to win a battle.” He referred to a quote from President Ronald Reagan, that declares that there is no weapon in the world as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and free women.
Maxwell also said that it’s not a person’s name from which he receives honor, but a person’s actions that gives honor to his name. He took one very ordinary name, Smith, and reviewed the bravery of veterans named Smith who were recipients of the Medal of Honor for service in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam, and Iraq.
He noted that they were all posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor because they gave their lives to save the lives of others, and that represents courage.
Other speakers, including State Representative Wayne Krieger and Brookings Mayor Larry Anderson spoke about the 58,000-plus names on the wall that represent those who gave their lives for others in the Vietnam War, and noted that it was because of the Vietnam veterans that no U.S. military member will ever return to his/her homeland without someone to greet and honor them for their service.
The rousing music provided by the Christian Family Fellowship Choir included musical recognition of each branch of the military and other inspiring selections, plus a heart-stopping rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
The Memorial included the Pledge of Allegiance led by Boy Scouts of America, posting of wreaths by Curry County VFW Post 966, Calvin E. Murphy Detachment 578 Marine Corps League, American Legion Post 195, U.S. Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and Vietnam Veterans of America, plus Taps and gun salute by the Marine Corps League.
Early the following morning, Lloyd Olds and Jim Collis were on duty greeting a visiting couple, Christopher and Yvonne Long from Myrtle Point, who came to attend the memorial service and wanted one more look at the wall before leaving town.
Some visitors were looking for names of the five from Curry County, Pfc. John Brannon, Chief Warrant Officer William Davis, Pfc. Patrick Kelly, Pfc. Gaylord Klinefelter, and Pfc. James Lowery, all members of the U.S. Army. One visitor was overheard saying, “I went to school with him.”
There is still time to take advantage of the opportunity to experience the moving emotions evoked by a visit to the wall.
Volunteers, who have participated in training classes, will be on hand 24 hours a day until the closing ceremony to guide visitors and help them find names on the wall.
As of Friday afternoon, it was reported that hundreds of people have visited the wall.