PALMDALE – The winners of the 2016 Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall Essay Contest have been announced.
- Nicholas Ryan Howlett, a 4th grader at Gregg Anderson Academy, won the Elementary School division. Topic: What is a military veteran? How and why should we properly honor our veterans?
- Lillian Collado, an 8th grader at Hillview Middle School, won the Middle School division. Topic: What is the most appropriate manner to honor the families of fallen soldiers (Gold Star Families)? Why is this important?
- Persja Moore, an 11th grader at Lancaster High School, won the High School division. Topic: Research one person on the Wall and write a letter to his/her family honoring their loved one’s sacrifice.
Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford presented each winner with a certificate at the Nov. 2 Palmdale City Council Meeting.
The students will read their winning essays at ceremonies during the display of the Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall. Howlett will read his essay at the Veterans Day Opening Ceremony on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.; Collado will read her essay at the Candlelight Memorial Walk on Nov. 12 at 9 p.m.; and Persja Moore will read her essay at the Vietnam Gold Star Family Recognition Ceremony on Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.
Known locally as the “AV Wall,” the half-scale size tribute monument of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. will be on display Nov. 10 through 15 at the Palmdale Amphitheater, located at 2723 Rancho Vista Boulevard. Like the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., the AV’s own Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall has the names of the 58,315 Americans killed in action during the Vietnam War. Visitors may make rubbings of names and leave tokens of tribute, and meet with Vietnam War veterans.
At a cost of more than $100,000, the AV Wall was built with the aid of $20,000-plus in small change donations made by schoolchildren of the Antelope Valley. Since its debut in 2009, it has been displayed across the Antelope Valley and Southern California, and is a unique grassroots tribute.
This year’s theme for display of the AV Wall is “Honoring the Gold Star families of the Vietnam War,” a tribute to those immediate family members who lost a loved one during one of America’s longest wars.
“We are reaching out, and want the community’s assistance in helping us find Gold Star families of the Vietnam War period, so that we can recognize and honor them,” stated Stacia Nemeth, a key volunteer in organizing the AV Wall display.
A Candlelight Memorial Walk honoring Gold Star Family members in attendance and local soldiers whose names are on the wall (The AV 76) is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. As each soldier’s name is read, a candle will be placed by a family or community member at the appropriate wall panel.
Taps will be played by MSgt Gerald Lockwood each night at 10 p.m. The Gold Star Family Recognition Ceremony will take place on Sunday, Nov.13 at 2 p.m. Hailey Callison will sing the National Anthem and the Highland High School JROTC will present the Table of Honor. Representatives from the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration Committee will present certificates and pins from the Certificate of Honor “In Memory Of” program to Vietnam Gold Star Families who register for the ceremony.
Guest speakers at this ceremony are two members of the Sons and Daughters in Touch group, Ron Reyes and Susan Mitchell-Mattera, who both lost their fathers in the Vietnam War. Following the ceremony, there will be a private reception for Gold Star Families at the Hilton Garden Inn.
“The city is proud to honor the Gold Star families of the Antelope Valley and surrounding areas at the events this year,” stated Palmdale’s Recreation Supervisor Annie Pagliaro. “Losing a loved one in war is something very few people can understand, but each of us can show appreciation to the Gold Star families by attending the ceremonies and expressing compassion for their loss.”
For more information on the AV Wall, call 661-524-6408 or visit www.avwall.org.
[Information via news release from the city of Palmdale.]