Local Vietnam Veterans share their stories of perseverance

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WAUKESHA — As many continue to observe Memorial Day weekend, thousands made their way to Frame Park Formal Gardens in Waukesha to pay their respects.

Organizers honored service members by putting together a field of honor, a nationally touring half-sized replica of Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a museum showcasing artifacts.

The moving wall gives people a chance to honor the more than 58,000 Vietnam Veterans that lost their lives fighting for freedom.

The display includes 68 Waukesha County natives with 14 from the city of Waukesha who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Visitors admire the moving wall exhibit in Waukesha prior to Memorial Day on Monday.

Many Veterans said it’s the best thing next to visiting the memorial in Washington D.C.

Waukesha Parks Special Events Coordinator Joana Adamicki said the city put in the request for the wall three years ago and it was supposed to be displayed last year but due to COVID-19 was pushed back to this year.

The last time the moving wall was in the city was 1989, according to Adamicki.

“The lines have been significant, but people are patiently waiting for their turn to visit,” Adamicki said.

Adamicki said since Thursday, thousands have visited the wall and waited at least an hour to get their chance to go through it.

“For me, it’s been very gratifying, very fulfilling, very moving and very emotional. I’ve cried with a couple of guys and hugged deeply,” Vietnam Veteran Canine Handler Kim Michalowski said.

Michalowski has been at the site since it opened and said he has been able to reconnect and meet other Veterans he hasn’t seen for years.

He said the brotherhood and commendatory is amazing.

For, other Veterans it has given them a chance to reflect and thank their fallen service members.

Vietnam Veteran Thomas Ralston made his way through the moving wall and read the names of the men in his company that did not make it.

“These are not abstracts, I know these guys and I helped carry their bodies and tried to save their lives,” Ralston stated. “They gave up their lives to the service of their country and they didn’t have a chance to get on with their lives like I did.”

Ralston and other Veterans feels the emotions and harsh reality the Vietnam War left them with, but many say they are grateful for being present and to be able to pay their respects.

The moving wall will be up until Tuesday morning and than will head to Ohio.

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