On Thursday, the city of Blue Springs will be ablaze with patriotism as they begin the four-day free presentation of “The Wall That Heals,” a traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, the city of Blue Springs will be ablaze with patriotism as they begin the four-day free presentation of “The Wall That Heals,” a traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

To appreciate the memorial one must first know about the Vietnam War that plagued the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. Digitalhistory.edu notes: Between 1945 and 1954, the Vietnamese waged an anti-colonial war against France.

The French defeat at the Dien Bien Phu was followed by a peace conference in Geneva, in which Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam received their independence and Vietnam was temporarily divided between an anti-Communist South and a Communist North. By 1958, Communist-led guerrillas known as the Viet Cong had begun to battle the South Vietnamese government. The United States sent in 2,000 military advisers. The military condition deteriorated, and by 1963, South Vietnam had lost the fertile Mekong Delta to the Viet Cong.

In 1965, Johnson escalated the war, commencing air strikes on North Vietnam and committing ground forces, which numbered 536,000 in 1968. The 1968 Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese turned many Americans against the war. President Richard Nixon advocated Vietnamization, withdrawing American troops and giving South Vietnam greater responsibility for fighting the war. His attempt to slow the flow of North Vietnamese soldiers and supplies into South Vietnam by sending American forces to destroy Communist supply bases in Cambodia in 1970 in violation of Cambodian neutrality provoked antiwar protests on the nation’s college campuses.

An agreement was reached in January 1973. U.S. forces were withdrawn from Vietnam and U.S. prisoners of war were released. In April 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to the North and Vietnam was reunited.

It was the most unpopular American war of the 20th century resulting in the deaths of nearly 60,000 Americans (etched upon The Wall) and an estimated 2 million Vietnamese.

American soldiers returned home to a divided country and many were opening vilified and spat upon. They received no parades; they just did their duty and came home.

Now a replica of the famous Vietnam Memorial travels the nation urging citizens to finally welcome home our unjustly dishonored veterans. Blue Springs is ready and at the opening ceremonies on Thursday evening, I have the honor to present my poem, “A Moving Epitaph” recorded for airplay by KFKF radio.

I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.