17TH VIETNAM AND ALL VETERANS REUNION
I t started off on Sunday with a
motorcycle escort. More than 2,000 riders met and escorted the
4/5-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington,
D.C. to Wickham Park in Melbourne, Florida. Crowds of citizens lined
the route waving and cheering as the procession of riders rolled by.
At the park, the Wall was assembled and other preparations made for
the official opening ceremony on Monday.
The opening ceremony includes the
presenting of colors, laying of wreaths, distinguished speakers, an
elegant rifle salute and taps. The Memorial is open to the public 24
hours a day until the closing ceremony the following Sunday. A staff
of volunteers answers questions and assists onlookers. The Wall is
to honor the more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives in
the Vietnam War. This year the reunion was changed to include all
veterans because the United States has been involved in many
military actions since Vietnam, including our current actions in
The Wall is set up at the south end of
the park, and it is a very moving sight. I visit it every year to
pay my respects to PSGT John Herlihy, Regular Army, who died in
Vietnam in 1966. If you ever get a chance to visit the Wall, you
should definitely do so.
The reunion was also established to
afford a healing effort to those faced with war problems. It all
starts with ‘Welcome Home, Brother" The Mobile Museum that houses
memorabilia of the Vietnam War is on the grounds, as well as
vehicles and numerous displays. It is a living history lesson that
tries to help those who were not in Vietnam better understand what
our troops went through, and to also understand other aspects of the
In another section of the park the
party portion of the reunion kicked off on Friday at 4:00 p.m. That
is where the music played, drinks and food were consumed, riders
camped and military vendors shared their wares and displays.
The celebration continued until the
closing ceremony Sunday at 7:00 p.m., back at the Wall with a
candlelight vigil. Everyone placed their candles carefully near the
names of their lost brothers.
The reunion has its serious moments,
times of grief, terrible memories and prayers. But it is also a time
of greeting old friends and getting to spend some serious time with
them. Of course every year I make new friends, too, so the party
just goes on and on.
All this has made this the largest
veteran’s grassroots reunion in the country. I would like to remind
everyone to thank our military people who are risking their lives
now serving our country, and pray that they make it home safe. If
you did not make it in 2004, visit in 2005. The Wall will arrive
April 18th and be on display until the 25th, with the Reunion Party
from the 23rd to 25th.
For more information contact Rogue at
visit the reunion web page at