SYCAMORE – For Guy Sparrow of Kirkland, the names carved into granite on the traveling Vietnam War Memorial replica aren’t the names of strangers: They are the names of fellow soldiers and friends. One name in particular, Arthur “Bud” Richardson, was the name of a family friend and schoolmate. Richardson, a helicopter pilot, was the second soldier from Illinois to be killed during the Vietnam War.
Sparrow, who was drafted into the Army and served in Vietnam, visited the Wall That Heals to locate the names of his fallen comrades and to pay his respects to their memories.
The Wall That Heals, a half-scale granite 250-foot replica of the memorial wall in Washington, D.C, was on display 24 hours a day from Thursday through Sunday at Sycamore Community Park. Listed on the wall are the names of all 58,318 men and women who died during the Vietnam War, including 19 from DeKalb County.
“We were all young when we went to Vietnam, but some of us never got any older – some of us never returned,” Sparrow said. “We weren’t given welcome home parades when we returned from the war. Back then, the soldiers that died and those that returned home were not recognized. Visiting the wall allows us to remember and honor those that died and those that served during the Vietnam War.”
The wall was brought to Sycamore thanks to DeKalb County Veterans Tribute, a group working through the veterans organization VietNow. The wall previously visited the county in 2007 and 1997.
While the wall was in Sycamore, each day featured events and special guest speakers. After leaving Sycamore, the wall will travel to Superior, Wisconsin, and will be displayed there from July 20 to July 23.
Steven Kreitzer, chairman of the project and assistant superintendent of the DeKalb County Veterans Assistance Commission, said that one of the main reasons for bringing back the wall was to educate and inform the community about the Vietnam War.
A mobile education unit with displays, uniforms and photographs accompanied the wall.
“It’s important for everyone to know and remember what these brave men and women did during the Vietnam War,” Kreitzer said. “It’s also important to let veterans know that DeKalb County stands behind them, supports them and thanks them for their service.”