Local man hopes to bring ‘Wall that Heals’
Richland resident Roger Frakes passionately flipped through a three-ring binder filled with pictures, letters, newspaper clippings and various other articles dedicated to those who have served — specifically, during the Vietnam War.
A veteran himself who served in the United States Army National Guard for 10 years, Frakes doesn’t consider himself to be a hero, but instead, he shares stories about those who risked their lives and fell in battle to make this country great.
“Douglas Peterson was awarded a bronze star with a ‘V’ for valor — he was shot to pieces — he was injured dragging someone else out,” Frakes said of Peterson, a Fairfield High School graduate who died as a result of war sustained injuries six years after returning home from Vietnam.
“Everybody’s a hero nowadays, but these men are the real heroes; they fought so that we could have the freedoms we have today,” he said.
Frakes said seven Fairfield men, including his brother, Jerry, perished in the Vietnam War — four of them from the same graduating class.
Frakes is hoping the community will rally around an effort to bring The Wall That Heals Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica & Mobile Education Center to Fairfield.
The 248-foot wall is driven around the country and stationed in one spot for around four days. The Wall is an exact replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The trailer becomes a museum once The Wall is removed and set up on location.
“There are 58 names on there within a 50-mile radius including Keota, Washington, Mt. Pleasant, Ottumwa, Richland and Fairfield,” Frakes said.
Frakes said The Wall The Heals was given its name for a good reason.
“There are guys who come out there during the night when it’s easiest for them. You’ll see ever emotion known to man at that Wall,” he said.
Although Frakes has wanted The Wall to come here for quite sometime, it was his friend, Jefferson County resident Linda Hendricks who got the ball rolling.
Hendricks is a member of the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary.
“Roger had kept talking to me about The Wall, so I mentioned it during our women’s auxiliary meeting,” Hendricks said, adding that the idea received a positive response.
Currently, the American Legion has a donation account for The Wall set up at First National Bank in Fairfield.
“They can just go there to donate and the money will be earmarked for The Wall That Heals,” Hendricks said, adding that to bring the wall here would cost $7,000.
“If 700 people send $10, then we’ve got it,” Frakes said. “There’s no such thing as a small donation.”
Frakes and Hendricks have both gone to see and participate in setting up the wall when it has traveled to nearby locations. Most recently, the two traveled to Urbandale.
“That’s the shiniest truck you’ll ever see,” Hendricks said of the semi truck that transports the wall from place to place.
Hendricks has helped escort the wall into towns by motorcycle, as both the American Legion Riders and a group called the Patriot Riders precede the semi trailer.
“In Urbandale, the wall was at the Living History Farms,” Frakes said, adding that the group didn’t have a designated place for The Wall in Fairfield yet.
“We need a place to set it up,” Frakes said, adding that hoped The Wall could be stationed at either the Jefferson County Fairgrounds or at the Dexter Soccer Field on Grimes Avenue.
If the goal is reached during the fund raising effort, The Wall could visit Fairfield as soon as next summer.
“It’s a community project.” Frakes said. “We need around eight to 10 volunteers to set it up, but I’ve never seen less than 20 or 30 people out there —Men, women, children, I’ve seen Boy Scout troups come out — any and everyone can help.”
For more information, contact Frakes at 319-695-3140 or Hendricks at 472-6188.