The traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall arrived Friday with much fanfare.  It received a motorcade the Governor could only wish to deserve.

The Enid Police Department.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol.  Motorcycles and patrol.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Department (including the Sheriff Elect, Jerry Niles)

The Enid Fire Department with their always patriotic flag hanging above.  It always moves me to see that.  It’s so beautiful.

And literally hundreds of veterans on motorcycles who escorted the Wall from a great distance.  When they pulled up, I felt as if I was suddenly in Charming, California and the Sons of Anarchy were here.  But no.  This was Enid.  And they were not thugs.  They were patriots.  Veterans.  Men who watched men die that had their name on the wall.

Once inside Convention Hall, itself a memorial to war veterans, we were treated to the beautiful sounds of the Enid High Choir.  They sang our National Anthem.  They sang all the songs for each branch of service.  I watched the veterans in the crowd.  As their song was sang, they swelled with pride and sorrow.

The City of Enid was represented by outgoing commissioner Todd Ging, himself a veteran of the Gulf War.  Ging gave a stirring speech that had some veteran’s nearly to tears and Ging himself, stumbled a few times trying to keep his composure as he thanked the Vets in the crowd.  The majority of the City delegation was out of town today.  And that was a good thing.  Otherwise, perhaps Ging might not have given this speech.  I’m glad he gave it.  It was a beautiful speech.

Woodring Airport Guru Dan Ohnesorge and co-chairman of the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall Project committee seemed very elated when I spoke with him shortly after the wall arrived.  “You did it!” I told him.  He very humbly thanked me, then paused and said, “no….WE did it.”  A tremendous about of work had been done by the committee to secure funding for the wall.  And none of this would have happened, if not for Elaine Johns, Woodring Wall of Honor director.  The owner of the wall spoke at the meeting and said that without her, he probably wouldn’t have done the deal. And it’s important to remember that the fundraising is not over.  There is still a tremendous amount of money that needs to be raised to help properly display the wall in a way befitting such a memorial.  For information on that, you can contact Dan Ohnesorge at Woodring.

There were presentations of legislative proclamations delivered by David Henneke.

To end the ceremony, Doc Bryant played “Taps.”  The mood was already somber mixed with excitement.  But “Taps” took it too another level.  Especially for the veterans who have no doubt heard that played a million times.  During the playing of “Taps,” I found myself starting at the back of a veteran’s jacket.  I was transfixed by it.  There were patches from at least a dozen states on his jacket where he had been for memorial ceremonies with the wall.  This showed me how committed the veteran’s were in ensuring the memory of those lost.  Mr. Henneke mentioned in his speech that he had thanked a veteran before the ceremony for coming and being a part of this.  The man simply said, “Anything for the wall.”  It was right then, that my emotions surprised me.  My eyes began to tear up.

Anything for the wall.

I took a bunch of pictures, but I only wanted to put in a few here.  So here you go.