CROSBY: Lots of moving parts to Vietnam moving wall
By Denise Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org August 23, 2013 1:38PM
From left, Scott Roscoe and Hershel Luckinbill discuss agenda items Thursday night for the Vietnam Moving Wall coming to Aurora for five days in November. | Denise Crosby~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 26, 2013 6:41AM
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to sit down with the committee that is bringing the Vietnam Moving Wall to Aurora for five days in November.
Snacks? Thank you very much. I was darn hungry after the more than two-hour meeting Thursday evening, so I snarfed down three miniature candy bars on the way home.
A polo shirt? They gifted me with a white knit top featuring the Moving Wall logo, which I’ll proudly wear when taking a shift reading the 48,282 names of those who died during the Vietnam War.
Lots of volunteers are needed, by the way. But more on that later.
What I really wanted to take away from this meeting was a sense of who these local “super patriots” are: What makes these people tick, I wondered, who dedicate so much of their time to making sure our local veterans are treated with the respect they deserve.
Some on the committee are vets themselves: like Scott Roscoe and Herschel Luckinbill, who is heading up this grand project; Purple Heart recipients Rich Gardner and Jim Davidson; and Joe Toma, who along with Davidson was part of the 1989 effort to bring the wall to Aurora.
Others taking a seat at the table on Thursday never served in the military but have a burning desire to honor those who have. They include former West Aurora High School Principal Rudy Keller, who is heading up the Healing Field presentation through Nov. 13 at the school in conjunction with the Wall. Also in the conference room at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 501 Hall were the City of Aurora’s Chuck West, Aurora Historical Society’s Kim Granholm, and Lisa Garcia, who got involved as a way of honoring her late husband, a Marine who died two years ago.
With only 77 days left, the meeting reflected some of the pressure the committee is beginning to feel. Over and over I heard, “It’s on my list,” or “I’m working on it,” or “I’ll get back to you.”
“It’s very important we find out who is doing what,” Luckinbill noted, as he clicked off one agenda item after the other.
Listing all those details would take too much space, so I’ll offer a paragraph’s worth: While major sponsors are secured (Fifth Third Bank for the Wall; Old Second for the Healing Field that will display 2,013 flags on West’s campus), smaller donors are needed to reach the $30,000 goal. Other topics included flyovers, fireworks, flagpoles and floodlighting. There were also bikers to accommodate and ceremonies to plan and signage to purchase and sentries to line up to man the Wall 24/7. There was even lively debate on whether shuttle buses are needed and just how many portable toilets should be brought in.
No detail was left untouched, including grass seed to repair the West High athletic fields after some 300,000 visitors trample across them.
And then, of course, there’s volunteers.
Alderman Rick Mervine was on hand to let the committee know all 10 wards are getting involved. But plenty more bodies are needed, including people to read the 58,282 names etched on this traveling memorial.
By the time the meeting was adjourned, my stomach was not only growling, my head was spinning. Yet one thought was crystal clear. Just as we owe a debt of gratitude to the vets who served our country, these super patriots deserve our thanks, as well. And we can show that gratitude best by getting involved, even in small ways. Go to www.vietnammovingwallaurora.org; or give Luckinbill a call at 630-801-9591.
As one member put it, “If you’re an American, you’ll be moved.”
That’s a guarantee.