McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 13, 2013

'Wonderful tribute': Governor commends Enid after visit to Vietnam Memorial Wall

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin stooped to pick up a dog tag left behind from the Veterans Day dedication of the Vietnam Memorial Wall and gingerly placed it in a time capsule Wednesday evening.

The capsule won’t be opened again until the year 2100.

Fallin stopped to visit the wall, which was dedicated at Enid Woodring Regional Airport on Monday, before continuing on to the 2013 Grand National Quail Hunt reception at Oakwood Country Club.

She was joined by her husband, Wade Christensen, as the two were greeted by David Henneke, president of the Woodring Wall of Honor Board of Directors, and Elaine Johns, its executive director. Enid Mayor Bill Shewey also was present to receive the governor.

Fallin was unable to attend the unveiling of the memorial on Veterans Day, and this was her first chance to see it in person.

Henneke explained how the Wall of Honor will continue to add to Veterans Park around the Vietnam Memorial Wall, and Fallin ended her visit by closing the time capsule. Inside will be the I.D. tag, several other items left behind from the ceremony and a copy of a legislative resolution declaring that the wall is Oklahoma’s official tribute to those who served in the Vietnam War. State Sen. Patrick Anderson and Reps. Mike Jackson and John Enns, who each represent the Enid area at the state Capitol, drafted the resolution.

The wall is an 80-percent scale replica of the black granite memorial found in Washington, D.C. Previously it was a traveling memorial, and visited more than 200 locations across the United States before a collection of private donors helped bring it to Enid permanently.

Along the anodized aluminum wall are the names of almost 60,000 people who were killed or declared missing in action during the conflict.

“I was reading the ages of the people on this wall, and it was just remarkable how young they were,” Fallin told Henneke.

Even though the memorial is four-fifths the size of the Washington memorial, Fallin remarked at its stature.

“It was absolutely stunning to walk up to this Vietnam Memorial Wall and to see how huge it is,” she said.

Fallin commended Enid for banding together to bring the wall here, and to provide a solemn place for Oklahomans to reflect on the Vietnam conflict. Donors raised more than $400,000 to purchase the wall from American Veterans Traveling Tribute, and display it at the entrance to the airport.

“To know that the community of Enid has worked so very hard to pay such a great tribute to our Vietnam veterans and those who were lost during the Vietnam War, it’s just a wonderful gift not only to the veterans community, but to the state of Oklahoma,” she said. “It will be a nice tribute so that we never forget the freedoms that we have today and those who gave their lives so we could live in freedom.”

The Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park will be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and is free to visit.