‘Wall That Heals’ brings veterans, community together

By Eileen Persike

MMC staff

RHINELANDER – A three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C. visited the Northwoods recently.

Called The Wall That Heals, the exhibit at Nicolet College from Thursday, May 18 through Sunday, May 21 included a mobile Education Center and digital photo displays of service members from around the area whose names are on the Wall.

Veterans of all eras, family members and community members paid homage to the vets who lost their lives during the war in Southeast Asia. Some left mementos at the wall, while others took photos and rubbings of the names etched into the granite composite material.

The process to bring the Wall to Rhinelander began last summer for Nicolet College financial aid advisor and military veteran Casey Lehmann. She was notified that her application to host the Wall was approved around Veterans Day last fall.

Lehmann said it is good to give Vietnam vets and their families the respect that wasn’t always afforded them as the vets returned home. 

Especially heartwarming, she said, is seeing the numbers of people who are “connected to others on this wall” who visited the display to find those connections.

“I got to meet a Gold Star mom yesterday, she’s 93 years old and she came and found her son’s name,” Lehmann said. “He died when he was 19, and just to get to talk with her and connect with her a little bit and give her a hug – that was awesome. That was a good moment for me.”

The exhibits tell the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the era surrounding the conflict, and are designed to put American experiences in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context.

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