By Allison Collins
ONEONTA – Thanks to the efforts of Gene Schmidt of Unadilla, the Wall that Heals will be returning to Otsego County from May 25 through 29, just in time for regional Memorial Day celebrations and remembrances.
The wall, a half-size portable version of the permanent Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., travels nationally six months out of the year to give those who can’t visit the Capital a chance to locate and remember the names of soldiers lost to the Vietnam War. For the last weekend of May, it will take up temporary residence in Oneonta’s Neahwa Park.
Schmidt’s work to preserve and honor the past, particularly as it relates to local soldiers, began years ago when he fundraised for a monument to honor one-time Oneonta high schoolers whose lives were lost to the Vietnam War. According to a Facebook event page, Schmidt said that this most recent memorial “not only honors those [killed-in-action] from Oneonta, but all those men and women killed in Vietnam.”
Schmidt coordinated a GoFundMe page alongside a mailer campaign to help raise the reportedly $7,000 needed to transport, house, secure and advertise the monument’s arrival in Oneonta. Donors to date have shared stories and anecdotes of their own whilst thanking Schmidt for undertaking this project.
One donor shared, “My father died as a result of his service during the Vietnam War. I thank you for starting the campaign and for all those [who] donate. I took my son when he was too young to appreciate it when it came to the Binghamton area. He is now old enough to see and appreciate it.”
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