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‘The Wall’ an educational and powerful experience

by Daily Inter Lake
| June 25, 2023 12:00 AM

Today is the last chance to visit The Wall That Heals monument during its tour stop in Kalispell. If you haven’t yet made it out to Glacier High School to see the impressive Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica, we certainly encourage you to do so — the experience is both educational and powerful.

Inscribed on “The Wall” are the names of the approximately 58,000 U.S. veterans who died in the Vietnam War. More than 260 of those veterans were Montanans, including 13 from Flathead County, according to National Archives information.

Visiting the monument can be an emotional experience, even for those who have no direct lineage to the war that ended nearly 50 years ago. Mark Coppock, who volunteered to help set up the replica last week, noted that simply seeing veterans react to the wall reinforces the importance of showing up.

“It’ll grab you,” Coppock told the Inter Lake.

But the truth is, all U.S. citizens are connected to this conflict in some way, whether personally or through policies and cultural shifts that followed.

Before heading to the replica it’s worth taking some time to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website vvmf.org. The nonprofit’s mission is to educate people about the impacts of the long and divisive conflict, and the traveling wall tour is made possible through this organization’s important work.

Among the Memorial Fund’s educational projects is “The Wall of Faces” which links each name on the wall to a webpage with a photo and more information about each service member that gave their life for our country.

Search for Flathead County and you’ll see the names of Richard James Best Jr., Mitchell L. Anderson, Joseph H. Benson, Duane L. Cottet, David W. Dorris, Roger D. Eckstien, Anthony G. Harness, Richard M. Johnson, Manford L. Kleiv, William G. Little, Phillip A. Nichols, Timothy C. Robinson and Douglas G. Street. On each of their pages you can browse touching memorial messages and find the exact location of their name on the wall.

Organizers expected a remarkable 20,000 people from across the region to visit the site during the Kalispell tour stop.

Thank you to Glacier Park Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2522 for hosting the monument and to all the volunteers who contributed to the weeklong effort.

We hope the tour stop provided Vietnam-era veterans a chance to remember and heal. Equally as important, we hope it offers valley residents the opportunity to gain a better understanding of this time in American history that continues to affect so many.