A.J. Collins ’21 quickly moved along the wall Thursday evening. He was a man on a mission. He counted down the rows. Then counted over one row of names. He found Evart E. Robeson.
Collins (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia) shot a photo with his phone, then pulled out a sheet of paper from his pocket and quickly made a rub of the engraved name; as others were doing along the Traveling Vietnam Wall now on display at River Park Square in downtown Plymouth. The display is being sponsored by the Plymouth American Legion, Post 27.
“He’s my grandmother’s brother,” he explained quickly. “I gotta go so they don’t leave me.”
“They” were the other students, instructors, and military mentors who participated in the opening ceremony of the display. The Culver Military Academy Color Guard presented the colors, including a POW/MIA flag. The Culver Academies orchestra provided the patriotic music, including the armed forces hymns medley and taps, and the choir sang the national anthem and “God Bless America.”
On the latter, conductor Stacey Warren invited the crowd to join in the final chorus. As people started to sing, they also rose to their feet. Soon, everyone in attendance was standing, singing with the students.
The American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Wall is an 80 percent scale replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. The traveling wall still spans 360 feet and is eight feet high at its peak. It is open to the public 24 hours a day through 3 p.m. Sunday.
The wall contains the 58,282 names of men and women who died during the Vietnam War. Putting that figure in perspective, keynote speaker Indiana Rep. Jack Jordan (District 17) said that number is 12,000 people more than the population of Marshall County.
Among those listed are Sgt. Gordon Yntema ’63, who received the Medal of Honor for his bravery during a firefight with the Viet Cong. The wall also includes the names of 11 more CMA and 12 Culver Summer Schools & Camps men who are honored annually by the Gold Star ceremonies conducted every Memorial Day and summer camp.
After taps, Rev. Sam Boys, the director of Culver’s Spiritual Life Department, gave the benediction. He reminded the audience there are words to the bugle call, repeating the first verse.
“Day is done,
Gone the sun,
From the hills,
From the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
God is nigh.”