Event to raise funds for the Education Center at the Vietnam Memorial
By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The Vietnam War has been over for more than a generation. For many, the war is part of the distant past. Many others were not born until after the war was concluded.
Almost half the people who visit the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., each year are too young to remember what went on during the longest war in America. There is no connection to the thousands of names etched in the granite that makes up “The Wall.”
The Department of Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars has put together a “Ride for Healing” to raise funds to erect a 35,000 square foot Education Center near the Vietnam War Memorial.
“It will be a place to honor those who died and all who served. A place where the names on The Wall become visible, where the warrior is regarded separately from the war and where visitors leave wanting to learn more,” said Terry Pieper, chairman of the Minnesota State Commander’s Project. “It will be inspirational, educational and uplifting; a place for healing and reflection.
“This will be an attempt to provide the veterans with the honor and recognition they deserve and to welcome them home and give them a chance for the healing of all the hurts they have carried these many years,” said Pieper.
“It will also give the public a chance to contribute to this cause in their honor as the caravan travels through the state. The second purpose is to raise money to help build the Vietnam Veterans Museum and Education Center. All of the money for this museum must be raised by private fund,” he said.
The “Ride for Healing” starts from several areas of Minnesota Memorial Day. Caravans of classic cars and motorcycles will ride to the four corners of the state, then to their final destination in Brainerd, stopping at various rallying points along the way.
The Team Charlie caravan will be stopping in Randall, Friday, May 31. At about 10:30 a.m., traffic will be stopped on Highway 10 to allow the caravan easy access into town. The riders will stop at the VFW Curtis Olson Post 9073 for lunch and the public is welcome to join them.
Lunch will be a choice of a pulled pork sandwich or sloppy Joes. The group welcomes all who want to support the event. The group will ask for a freewill donation for the meal and the money raised will go toward the Education Center.
“We are looking for the community to come out in force to help build the Education Center and to show support for all Vietnam veterans,” said Danny Noss, junior vice commander of the Randall VFW. “The Education Center will hold artifacts, pictures and stories of the men and women who served.”
The caravan is expected to get back on the road at about 11:30 a.m. and head to Camp Ripley, where it will meet the other three caravans. From there, they will go to Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd.
On Saturday, June 1, the four caravans head to the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds in Brainerd. The Traveling Wall will arrive at the fairgrounds Thursday, May 30, and a commemoration event is planned for Saturday, June 1. A military flyover will be viewed at 1 p.m. with an official programs and ceremonies to follow.
There will also be memorabilia, music of the period, food, vendors and more. The day will end with a lakeside bonfire and barbecue at Cra-gun’s Resort.
People who come out to support the event are asked to bring photos and stories about the soldiers whose names are on The Wall.
“We would like assistance with the ‘Faces to Names’ project. This program is connected with the Education Center. The team at each rally point will collect these treasures and make sure they get to the Education Center,” said Pieper.