By Lisa Adams
GIRARD, Pa. (Erie News Now) – With Memorial Day approaching, you can find signs of patriotism everywhere in Girard — from the lawn of the borough building to the American Legion hall.
People in Girard are expected to pause and take notice when the truck carrying the “Wall That Heals” passes through Wednesday afternoon, especially Vietnam era veterans like Ron Olmstead, who was an Airman 3rd Class in the U.S. Air Force.
He shared his thoughts with us from inside American Legion Post 494 on Wall Street in Girard. “I was only in a year during Vietnam and I had to come home on a hardship discharge because my father had a heart attack, but I would have been…I had my orders for Thailand and I’d have been over there.”
Ron returned home to run the family business in Girard, but knows the pain of seeing fellow service members injured or lost. “And I had a lot of friends that went over there and some of them got wounded and a lot of them came back and some of them didn’t,” Olmstead said, “so it’s going to be an honor just to watch it go by tomorrow.”
The replica Vietnam Memorial Wall moves in a well-marked 53-foot trailer. The panels bearing the names of the more than 58-thousand men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war will be safe inside the truck, but the traveling exhibit will be hard to miss — especially with a color guard, Girard police and fire departments and hundreds of motorcycles ushering it in.
Girard Borough Police Chief Kevin Rafferty said the community will be ready. “The Girard police along with the fire department plan on assisting it into town, I know the Girard American legion will be setting up flags along Main Street starting today,” he said.
The wall will depart from Conneaut, Ohio at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday It’s expected to pass through Girard around 1:20 p.m. on its way to the Zem Zem Shrine Club at 38th and Zuck.
The Wall That Heals and its educational exhibits will be open for public view around the clock beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday and continuing through 2:00 p.m. on Monday, Memorial Day.