The Education Center at The Wall
Go inside the Education Center at The Wall and see what it will be with your help.
December 6, 2012
Of the seven young men who went to fight in Vietnam from R. L. Turner High School class of 1967 in Carrollton, Texas, Michael Johnson was the only one to come back.
“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know why I was home,” Johnson said.
Dustin Meeks, Thomas Dotson, Larry Kirkland, Dixon Hunt, Jerry Fraze, and John Roberts.
He faced even more pain on his first night back in the U.S.. Johnson had been proud of his service and his awards, but that very evening a friend told him to take off his uniform and forget about the war because no one wanted to hear about it. So Johnson did as he was told: he stopped talking about his time in Vietnam. Using the GI Bill he completed his degree at the University of Texas. He started a long and successful career with the fire department because the work resembled the military. But all along, Johnson never forgot his friends; Dustin Meeks, Thomas Dotson, Larry Kirkland, Dixon Hunt, Jerry Fraze, and John Roberts.
“I started going to these funerals,” Johnson said. “I thought, ‘How do these families feel? They’re burying their sons for something that we can’t even talk about?’”
Johnson became interested in Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund only years later, as he saw service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He saw airports full of people welcoming the troops home and he wondered why they weren’t there to support his friends returning from Vietnam.
Johnson is eager to see the Education Center at The Wall open its doors on the National Mall and to remind people of the scarifies of his generation and of the current generation. As part of our Faces Never Forgotten program, he is leading a personal fundraising campaign in honor of his six classmates. He has made a tremendous effort to get the students and teachers of R. L. Turner High School involved in his campaign; many of the kids have donated.
“If I had the means, I would give enough to build it,” Johnson said. “I don’t. But I’m doing what I can.”
If you would like to donate to Johnson’s campaign, click here
December 3, 2012
Waynesboro veteran Michael Harris is leading local efforts to recognize the 22 service members from the Augusta County, Va. area whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Harris was one of hundreds of the area’s youth in the late 1960s. He was inspired to serve by people like his father in a war few understood or supported. He enlisted in the Air Force, joining thousands during the Vietnam War. Upon returning to Virginia, he joined the Virginia State Police and rose quickly up its ranks.
“I never forgot the men and women I served with,” Harris said. “I always was grateful that I was able to come home.”
Air Force Capt. Woodrow Fitzgerald from Staunton was the first local casualty on Oct. 24, 1963. Army Spc. Franklin Breckenridge was the last who made the ultimate sacrifice on Nov. 28, 1970.
“I heard about the Faces Never Forgotten program with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Through them, I learned we had an opportunity to honor these guys,” Harris said.
The Faces Never Forgotten program attempts to locate and provide photographs of each of the service members honored on The Wall. The program also includes an effort to raise money to fund the construction of the Education Center at The Wall so that those photos and stories can be displayed and highlighted for the millions who visit The Wall.
“I approached my friends at American Legion Post 340 and they enthusiastically said they’d help,” said Harris. He hopes to meet with other veteran and community organizations to continue efforts.
“Together, we can all get out to find the photographs of these guys and make sure we preserve their stories for future generations,” said Harris. VVMF has collected eight of the 22 names from the Augusta County area.
“They had the ceremonial groundbreaking on Nov. 28 at the site of the Education Center,” said Harris. The ceremony was the beginning of a final effort to raise the remaining $30 million needed to begin construction. Harris has pledged to raise $22,000 in honor of Augusta County’s fallen.
“They’re hell-bent to get that center open in 2014 and I’m going to make certain we don’t forget all that our boys gave,” Harris said.
If you would like to donate in memory of the 22 names from Augusta County, click here