By MICK HOLIEN
I went to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. back in my tournament bowling days but unfortunately that was before the construction of the Viet Nam wall.
And while I feel compelled to leave such a trip near the top of my bucket list, as the years go by it becomes unlikely that is something I will be able to accomplish.
But the next best thing is time spent at the Wall that Heals, a half-sized replica of the real thing that visits Kalispell starting Thursday
I can tell you such a visit is highly therapeutic whether or not you are a veteran or served in that God forsaken war.
266 Montanans were among the 58,267 who lost their loves in Nam, each one honored by a single line on the 250-foot structure.
A flyover at 9:55 a.m. will open the exhibit which comes to Kalispell today from Libby and will remain open, along with a mobile education center, until Sept.10.
Since it dedication on Veterans Day, 1996 the traveling exhibit has been visited by 200,000 people in some 400 cities.
I have visited the structure twice in Missoula and the initial visit had a quite different profound effect than a couple of years ago when he arrived in the Clover Bowl just north of Washington Grizzly Stadium.
On the first occasion the exhibit was constructed at the Fairgrounds in Missoula and since it is open 24 hours a day, I opted to visit early one morning expecting a time for quite, private and personal reflection especially since it was about 4 a.m.
But to my surprise there were a plethora of others, many of whom I knew, who had the same idea.
I found the name of a relative – there is a master alphabetic list – and a couple of others I remembered so as to shade their names with a pencil, I felt like while I was sharing space it felt so like I was alone.
The silence, broken only occasionally by sobbing and sometimes just a word or two, was as eerie as the items left below the hallowed panels.
Maybe a tiny jug of whiskey, many packs of unfiltered smokes, patches from every imaginable unit and of course the pictures.
My second visit, accompanied this time by my best friend who said she just didn’t know what to expect was far less profound although I did retrace a name.
I encourage you to spend a few minutes – Just north of Rosauers on Highway 93 through Sunday.