Friday, September 26, 2003

Students sense wall's power

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Colerain Middle School student Danielle Schuman, 13, reads down the columns of names of war dead on the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
COLERAIN TWP. - Thursday wasn't the first time Ryan Pickers saw his uncle's name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

But this day, at a traveling half-size replica in Colerain Park, Ryan, 14, knew just where to go to find the name of the uncle he never met.

And this day, Ryan knew to be solemn and respectful and "to try to learn something," as his father stressed when they visited the real wall in Washington, D.C., last year.

"It's right over here, 54E," Ryan said, running his finger over his uncle's name.

"He volunteered to be in the war. He died for our country," Ryan said. "He was there with my dad. But they were in different platoons."

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 1982, lists the names of more than 58,000 Americans killed or missing in action.
Other facts:
• Six smaller replicas of the memorial travel the country.
• The 250-foot-long , half-scale replica at Colerain Park is called "The Wall That Heals." It features a museum and information center. It will be open 24 hours through Sunday.
Returning to the Tristate
"The Wall That Heals" returns Oct. 9-12 at the Mason Municipal Center on Mason-Montgomery Road.
Learn more
Call the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, (202) 393-0090, or go to Web site.
A Colerain Middle School eighth-grader, Ryan joined the rest of his classmates - about 225 - at the exhibit Thursday morning after a presentation by retired 1st Lt. John Erby, an Army platoon leader.

"This wall is built to interact with," said Erby, of Sharonville. "When I go there, I talk to my men and I believe they talk back to me. It's a place of mourning, a place of healing."

The event for eighth-graders was the culmination of a month-long unit in language arts and social studies.

Students had to research a soldier killed in Vietnam, then try to find the name on the wall.

"I'm hoping just the human element of it strikes them when they see the wall with all of these names on it," language arts teacher and project coordinator Vicki Zeinner said.


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