Wall of remembrance creates time for reflection
The somber sound of a bugle echoing through the downtown Francesville area could be heard indicating something bigger than those who had gathered at the festival on Friday was happening.
The Francesville Fall Festival literally began with a bang of a firecracker just before a special ceremony was held to remember those who gave this country their all.
The backdrop of the event was a black wall stenciled with the names of 58,318 of those who died during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall stands 300 feet from end to end and chronologically lists those who died by their death date. It stands as a half-size replica of the memorial wall in Washington, D.C.
A large group gathered to listen as Jim Ketchen spoke about 1st Lt. William Owen Steed, whose name is on panel 27W, Row 041. Ketchen knew of Steed because his mother was Ketchen’s second-grade teacher in Tennessee.
“Her only child, a son, died in a far off country defending freedom. Even at 15 years of age, it seemed so very unfair that Mrs. Steed’s son, her only child, had to die. He was far too young when he died,” Ketchen said. “What was true for Lt. William Owen Steed is true for every name on the wall before us — all 58,318 names. Every soldier, sailor, airman and marine whose name is etched on that wall was too young when they died.”
Ketchen said behind each of the names there is a story — some that are already forgotten. He said what will remain are the names of those who gave their all defending the freedoms that America enjoys today.
After Ketchen spoke, ladies of the American Legion Auxiliary placed wreaths of remembrance. A color guard then presented arms as taps was played, once at the wall and once behind the crowd.