Putting a face with every name etched into the Wall
REINBECK (KWWL) -
Tom Brickman has held onto many of his memories from the war from his draft notice to the letters written to his wife, Charlotte, while he was in Vietnam. But it's his memory of coming home that's hard to grasp.
"They told me, once I got in the states, to take my uniform off and don't let anybody know you served. But I was drafted, I served my country, I was proud of it. It was kind of hard to take at that time," said Brickman.
It's an experience shared by most Vietnam vets. The national monument built in their honor is intended to help mend those scars. But many people can't get to Washington D.C., which is why the group behind the memorial created "The Wall That Heals". It's a scaled-down version of the wall which travels around the country.
Last month, Brickman and his family made a second trip to the traveling wall. This time, the man who drives the monument from town to town showed them another aspect of the project -- the virtual memorial. It's an effort to put a face with every name on the wall.
"He just started talking about how he's from Iowa, and South Dakota's the only state that has all of the soldiers complete," said Brickman's daughter Shari Kirkpatrick.
"We checked, and there was one soldier from Janesville. So we looked that up. So he gave us some other names of Black Hawk, Bremer, my daughter wanted Reinbeck and Tama," said Brickman.
Kirkpatrick decided to take it a step further.
"I'm like, okay, we're not going to stop with those counties. We're going to try to get the whole state!" she explained.
A daunting task -- when you consider, of the 853 Iowans on the wall, about 500 do not have pictures.
"She's an energetic person, and once she makes up her mind she wants to do it. And she said, dad, I want to do this. It brought tears to my eyes, it really did," recalled Brickman.
The Brickman family has gone through the online list and written down every name without a photo on a separate sheet of paper. They've gathered all 500 sheets in a binder, with notes on any contact information they have, and plan to go through each one until the names are all crossed off.
"We'll just go until we get it accomplished," said Kirkpatrick.
For Kirkpatrick, it's not just about accomplishing a goal. It's a way to repay Vietnam vets, like her father, for what they endured -- both overseas, and when they returned home. After all, it's one thing to see a name, it's another to see their face. She saw that firsthand as her father went through the database looking for his friends.
"When the pictures would pop up, and it would match the pictures that were in his book, I think it just gave him more closure. So if we can give some of them even more closure, that would be awesome," said Kirkpatrick.
Brickman is honored that his daughter is taking on this project, and he can't wait to see it complete.
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:45 PM EDT2014-03-10 02:45:03 GMT
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