In the coming weeks, the historical replica of the great Vietnam Memorial — the Moving Memorial Wall — arrives in our area.
Even though it is just copy of the original marble masterpiece, it bears the names of all those who gave their lives during the Vietnam War. Many people are extremely excited to visit in Adel Sept. 26-30 and see their lost relative’s name, or to pay tribute to a stranger they never met but who died for their freedom.
Yet, the wall itself is not enough to fill the imagination, so the program has asked ABAC's Dr. James Galt-Brown, a professor of history, to loan some of his precious artifacts.
From his oldest brothers to his dear parents, Galt-Brown, received numerous historical items, dating not just from the Vietnam War but all the way back to the two world wars. Each treasure held a powerful story, and gave insight into what it was like to fight in those wars, and into means to be an American.
"The reason to keep these artifacts," Brown said, "Is so you can feel the history and see what they were used for."
Brown described one item known as "The Toe Kicker," which was a grenade placed in a tin can. When someone came by and hit it, "BOOM!"
There were many other ways soldiers used simple grenades to pack a devastating impact; some non-lethal, “but enough to get the job done," Galt-Brown said.
Viewers at the wall will see artifacts from various arsenals and gadgets that aided many of the soldiers during the wars, including American, German and Allied items. One item in particular is a predecessor of our M-16s, the M-1 Garand rifle.
What was special about this object was it was developed by a Canadian engineer named John Garand. Even though Garand was not American born, he still believed in the nation as though it was imbedded into his DNA, Galt-Brown said.
Galt-Brown said people should come and visit The Moving Wall because they will feel the power and connection behind the monument, especially when they encounter these artifacts. Some of these artifacts were held by brave men who fought not just because of the benefits, for there eally weren't any. Nor did they fight the title or some other recognition. They fought because they were driven by the urge to serve not a country but to protect their home.
These artifacts, however, were not the main source of the pride Galt-Brown feels. He owes that to the people who entrusted these items to him.
"Greater affection towards the person, not the object," Galt-Brown states. He had no favorite object. The freedom to share the love of history was worth more than anything. When asked what freedom meant to him, Galt-Brown simply referred to the Declaration of The Rights of Man and The Citizen, Article Four.
"Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no else hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law." No, this comes not from the Declaration of Independence; It was a declaration for the French Revolution.
History may be paved by the victors, but is written in the blood of the warriors who stood their ground. These artifacts, depending on the person, will help people experience the quest for liberty. As Galt-Brown said, they "give texture to the abstract."
The display will be with the wall from its arrival on Sept. 26 through departure on Sept. 30. For more information, go to themovingwall.org. The event is sponsored by Adel Outfitters.