It’s funny how things change. The opening of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982 came with a good deal of controversy.

It’s funny how things change. The opening of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982 came with a good deal of controversy.

Its stark design of black granite, listing the names of the war dead, was jarring. Was this really the way to honor the 58,000 Americans who died in Southeast Asia and the more than 8 million who served?

But the wall has a power to it, solemn and moving for anyone who has visited and experienced it. It quickly became a must-see for visitors to the nation’s capital, and the controversy about its design faded. People are drawn to its message about duty, loyalty and sacrifice.

Starting today, Blue Springs hosts “the Wall that Heals,” one of the half-size replicas of the memorial that travel the country. It is aptly named. The war was painful, both for those on the battlefield and for divided civilians at home, and healing starts with a recognition of the efforts of those who saluted and served, regardless of the arguments at home about the merits of the war.

The community is doing a great thing by having this event through the weekend. Tens of thousands are expected to come, many of whom presumably will never have the chance to get to the capital. Veterans will be encouraged to tell their stories. There will be flowers and tears. Maybe, after all these years, a laugh or two. There will be healing.

Some came home from the war to a hostile reception, and although the country has largely gotten past that – separating judgment about the cause from thanks for the sacrifice of those who served – Vietnam veterans have gotten too few public thank-you’s. This is one way to help correct that.