“Wall That Heals” Comes to The Newburgh Waterfront
By Edie Johnson
The People’s Park at Newburgh Waterfront was honored this week to have the Vietnam Veterans’ Healing Wall. It made a beautiful and thought-provoking contrast against the Hudson River and alternately blue sky and black storm clouds that floated above.
Almost 60,000 American soldiers were lost during the Vietnam conflict, which created a secondary conflict at home over whether we should be there at all; whether the USA was courageously there to prevent the worldwide spread of communism, and whether it was worth it for our young soldiers to die for a questionable cause half a world away. Those who risked or lost their lives went because their country asked it of them, and only asked to be treated honorably in return.
The wall’s arrival earlier this week had a tremendous escort of New Windsor and City of Newburgh Police on motorcycle, along with as a sea of Nam Knights and other cyclists in a cavalcade of honor. Its arrival was hailed for months ahead, and hundreds of this week’s visitors have already approached with respect, some looking for the names of lost friends and loved ones, others tracing the names onto white sheets for a family or friend remembrance. The grounds of the People’s Park were laced with wreaths and flags.
Meanwhile, in the People’s Park, veterans and other visitors came singly and in groups and approached one another with handshakes and hugs, to later sit down under a canopy and enjoy meals and renew friendships.
It was a rare opportunity for all, to think about what matters, and the cost of doing what one believes is right and honorable, and about the benefits of having good friends at times of loss and when decisions are difficult.
The Wall is available to visit, 24-hours a day, rain or shine, through this Sunday when there will be a closing ceremony.
(Photos by Bob McCormick and Debbie Regenbaum)