Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 221 helped more than 600 students and veterans tour the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Wall Sept. 6 in conjunction with its appearance at the first annual Celebration of Freedom Festival in Portage, Wis. The American Legion Foundation of Wisconsin was the lead sponsor of the festival.
Native American veterans from three Legion posts opened the celebration Thursday with traditional dances and a sage-smoke blessing of the wall by Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle and Kirk DeCora, a Ho-Chunk member and veteran whose brother’s name is on the wall. Elliott DeCora lost his life on Aug. 16, 1968 at Quang Tri.
WhiteEagle told the gathering that the traveling memorial was no place for politics, and American Legion Department of Wisconsin Commander David Wischer agreed. “This is not about politicians and the way this world is working now,” he said. “It is about the sacrifices of those whose names are listed on that wall.”
The event also featured educational and commercial exhibits, a variety of top musical acts, and a kickball tournament.