For Our Troops reads names at Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Michael Purdie, Editor-in-chief

Members of the For Our Troops club traveled to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. on Nov. 10 to read the names of the fallen soldiers in the Vietnam War, honoring those who dedicated their lives to our country.

Names of the deceased have been read every five years since the Memorial was erected. This specific event was the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Memorial. The process of the 2017 Reading of the Names took 65 hours over a four-day period.

“To be a part of the [thirty-fifth] anniversary of the Vietnam Wall in D.C…. I think it [is] something that the students and myself…. we will never forget,” stated Robert Greenwood, adviser of the For Our Troops club.

Twenty-two slots of about 30 names were read by the members, resulting in approximately 660 names, only a fraction of the 58,328 names inscribed on The Wall.

“I personally gained experience in a way as in seeing what [the veterans] had to go through,” said For Our Troops member Nick Moore (’19). “Seeing all the names on The Wall is just a heart-wrenching thing to see.”

The mission of For Our Troops is to give back to the military community and support those who are serving or who have served in the armed forces and honor those who are deceased. Participating in the Reading of the Names reflected this mission by remembering the fallen soldiers in Vietnam.

“It’s just really awesome that we were lucky enough to get selected because only a few people get to do it, and the purpose of our club and our mission is why we got selected,” said Jenna Tognola (’18), president of For Our Troops.

The Wall, designed by Maya Ying Lin in 1982, is composed of 74 panels, all 40-inches in width, each varying in height as it narrows when moving away from the apex. Names on The Wall are organized in an inverted chronological order, with the first fatalities starting at the apex on the East Wall and the last fatalities ending at the apex on the West Wall.

“I gained a newfound respect for the different monuments and memorials because before, I just looked at them and thought they were cool and didn’t really think much of it,” said Whitney Langlee (’20), a member of For Our Troops.

Some students, such as For Our Troops member Nicco Boggan (’19), had more of a personal connection with the Reading of the Names.

“My grandfather was a doctor in Vietnam and served there, and I’ve known a lot of Vietnam [veterans] in my family, so I thought it was important for us to go there and read the names,” Boggan said.

Club member Barrett Hillier (’18) even gained a personal connection with the families of the veterans while on the trip.

“There was one woman in front of me that lost her brother,” Hillier said, looking for words. Hillier said the woman’s story almost made her cry.

The club plans on making a significant mark in our community in other ways as well. Some members even believe that this event influenced them to strengthen their involvement.

“[The Reading of the Names] gave me more of a drive for the club,” Tognola said. “Last year we just did care packages and didn’t have a connection with the soldiers, but now this year we’re actually going to airports and handing soldiers their care packages.”

Some other members can agree that the event gave them more passion towards For Our Troops.

“It’s mostly about giving back and general kindness because I feel like this world doesn’t have enough love,” Hillier said. “By joining For Our Troops, I’m at least giving this world a little more love.”