Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

Fairfield remembers the fallen

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Sep 14, 2018
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo A crowd gathers at The Wall That Heals to pay their respects following the Welcome Home Ceremonies Thursday at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. The traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial contains the names of more than 58,000 American soldiers who died during the Vietnam War.

A crowd filled the show arena Thursday at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects to the soldiers who died during the Vietnam War. The show arena hosted a “Welcome Home Ceremony” to honor the Vietnam veterans in attendance, and those whose names appear on The Wall That Heals, which came to Fairfield Tuesday and will stay through Sunday. The wall is a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and contains the names of all American servicemen and women who died in the war, more than 58,000.

Retired Sgt. 1st Class James Salts of the Iowa Army National Guard was the featured speaker. Salts, himself a Vietnam veteran, talked about the carnage of war he witnessed during his time, having to pause on a few occasions to compose himself. Salts gave the audience a brief history of the war, and spent most of his time talking about the local veterans who lost their lives. He mentioned Dennis O’Dell, the first Fairfield resident to die in the war. He mentioned Craig Rich of Brighton, whose likeness was painted onto a Freedom Rock that was unveiled in that town earlier this year.

Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy and Ray Chambers of Jefferson County Veterans Affairs each shared a few words about the memorial. Capt. Chris Fiske, chaplain in the Iowa Army National Guard 224th Brigade Engineer Battalion, gave the invocation and benediction.

The Fairfield High School marching band played the national anthem, and the Fairfield High School choir performed as well.

The Southeast Iowa Regional Fire Honor Guard posted the colors. Members John and Blair Grunwald, dressed in traditional Scottish attire, played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

John said it was a pleasure to be invited to participate in such a special ceremony.

“I’m very passionate about tradition and honor,” John said. “That’s why we’re in the honor guard. It means a lot to be part of that honor and respect.”

Blair remarked, “A lot of people don’t know what happened [in Vietnam]. If they have PTSD, they may not want to talk about their experience. It’s important to honor them for what they did, even if they can’t talk about. It’s about respecting their sacrifice. It’s a really cool honor to do for them.”

 

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