Vietnam Veterans Memorial Traveling Wall coming here

• Teachers can sign up for class Aug. 1

Staff Report

Bruce Jacobsen, vice president of Rockford Charter Chapter VietNow and POW/MIA Event chairman for Sept. 12, 2014, announces that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Traveling Wall will be making a stop in Loves Park, Sept. 11-14, 2014. But prior to this, a class will be held for teachers from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Aug. 1, at the KIDS — Main Training Room, 300 Heart Blvd., Loves Park. Cost is $15 to register.

This is an opportunity for Rockford-area teachers to educate their students about a war in our recent history that was highly controversial in its time and from which the nation has still not fully healed.

The Vietnam War is one of the most divisive moments in U.S. history, and many educators experience difficulty teaching it in their classrooms.

On Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund unveiled a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States. “The Wall That Heals” has visited more than 350 cities and towns throughout the nation, spreading the Memorial’s legacy to millions. This exhibition will be hosted by the Rockford Chapter of VietNow at the Field of Honor in Loves Park, Sept. 11-14.

Teachers are encouraged to take advantage of the educational benefits of this exhibition to help students learn about the lasting impact of the Vietnam War, while reinforcing history, civic engagement, writing, and other interdisciplinary skills. The session will give an overview of the exhibition with the mobile museum and provide ideas for project-based learning to teach research skills.

Jacobsen said: “I have been in contact with surrounding regional superintendents from Lake County on Lake Michigan to Stephenson that covers to the Mississippi, and south in Dixon for Lee and Ogle County, and they will all be directing teachers to attend the class being offered at the Loves Park location of the Boone/Winnebago Regional Office of Education offered by their KIDS program. The class is open to teachers in all of Illinois for CPDU credits. You can contact Linda Oshita, assistant regional superintendent, or Donnette Nailor of KIDS for additional information.”

To register for the class, visit or call KIDS at (815) 636-3040.

Some other veteran organizations, such as the VFW and the American Legion, have been providing substantial financial support as well as active participation in training. Some motorcycle clubs will also be involved.

POW/MIA event coming Sept. 12

The first POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony sponsored by Rockford Charter Chapter took place in the mid-1990s. The date was Sept. 20, 1996. The event was held at the “Victory” statue at Memorial Hall in Rockford. It was Harlem graduate Mike Parker’s idea for the Chapter to host the event. He was the emcee, and Bob Theroux was the keynote speaker. The Color Guard consisted of Dave Scott, Al Katte, Mike Parker, Don Norman, John Candiotta and Darrell Gilgan. Recently, Mike Parker said, “It was a team effort. We felt it needed to be done, and we did it. It was an effort to raise public awareness of the issue, just like it is now, and to encourage them to seek out their representatives to take action.” The next year, the event was moved to the Field of Honor Memorial in Loves Park, where it has stayed for the past 17 years as of 2014.

The first known casualty of the Vietnam War was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass., listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed June 8, 1956. The French had been fighting in the area, and the U.S. was supporting their effort. Fitzgibbon’s name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed Sept. 7, 1965. Now, more than 52,282 names are listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2012. The names are arranged in the order they were killed by date, and within each date, the names are alphabetized. It has been 58 years since the first casualty. There had been only three deaths the day before; then the most casualty deaths for a single day was Jan. 31, 1968 — 245 deaths. There were 96 deaths the next day and 130 the day after that. The “Tet” offensive of 1968 had begun.

From the June 4-10, 2014, issue

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