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HomeBreaking NewsThe Wall That Heals: Hartland, Wisconsin, Vietnam Wall Replica Will Move You...

The Wall That Heals: Hartland, Wisconsin, Vietnam Wall Replica Will Move You to Tears

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It will move you to tears.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall replica in Hartland, Wisconsin, is profoundly moving, a sobering reminder of the staggering loss of young men, and women, we must never forget and always honor.

I went to see the replica Wall in the late evening hours on Saturday, June 1. There’s something especially profound about seeing it at night, lit up against a night sky with electric candles flickering against the plastic-covered photos and newspaper articles that have been lovingly placed near names. The Fire Department has erected a massive America flag. It’s open 24 hours.

Hartland is a very patriotic community, and I’m glad that I live in a county where people appreciate and honor the service and sacrifice, of these brave young men and women.

There’s still a chance to see it, if you haven’t yet. The replica Wall will stand in Hartland’s Nixon Park, 175 E. Park Ave, until 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 2. Hartland is the only Wisconsin community scheduled to get the mobile wall in 2024. According to CBS 58, 67 Waukesha County service members’ names are on the wall. Three are from Hartland. They are Thomas James Carstens, Darryl Jay Koch, and Donald Albert Sudbrink.

“My company had 90 men. Within two weeks, we lost 75% of them,” Vietnam Veteran and volunteer Dick Burr told WISN. “It’s hard. It tears me up right now. You know, I know at least 30, 30 guys that are on the wall.”

The Wall That Heals History

“On Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) unveiled a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States,” the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund says. “Since its dedication, The Wall That Heals has been displayed at nearly 700 communities throughout the nation, spreading the Memorial’s healing legacy to millions.”

“Bringing The Wall home to communities throughout our country allows the souls enshrined on the Memorial to exist once more among family and friends in the peace and comfort of familiar surroundings,” the VVMF explains.

Carefully and lovingly placed along the replica Wall in Hartland are the photos of some of the men who died, along with flowers, children’s sketches of flags, old newspaper articles, and other mementos that capture the human beings behind the names.

There is a mobile education center that presents the photos of the local heroes whose names are on the wall. This particularly moved me because, a number of years ago, my journalism students and I helped find the final missing photos of Wisconsin service members whose names are on the Wall. This was for a major project sponsored by the VVMF to find a photo for every name. The military photos had burned up in the 1970s in a major fire.

As I stood in the Hartland park, there flashed before me some of the photos we had found. One stood out: Michael Bohrman.

Hartland vietnam wall

I found his photo for a series on the missing photos that I wrote for the Waukesha Freeman.

His photo was missing, so I tracked down his dad in Delafield. I was amazed when he answered. That’s because by this point almost all of the parents of those who died in Vietnam are gone. He was 95. The living memories are carried by siblings, spouses, children.

Anyway, Jack Bohrman was an amazing man. I really enjoyed speaking with him. It took him two weeks though to agree to let me come over to get a copy of the photo. I learned in doing this project how raw and painful these memories were to families even 45 years later. It underscored the degree of loss. I remember him lamenting that he never really got a chance to get to know his son as an adult, to see what he would become.

When I went to Mr. Bohrman’s house (he is deceased now), he showed me that, in his garage under a blanket, he had saved his son’s cherry red Corvette all these years. I believe he said it was driven once. There it was, shiny and basically untouched. He also told me that he had a box of his son’s belongings in the attic that he had never opened, in all of those years. A family deeply devoted to service.

Rest in peace. To all of them.

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Jessica McBridehttps://www.wisconsinrightnow.com
Jessica's opinions on this website and all WRN and personal social media pages, including Facebook and X, represent her own opinions and not those of the institution where she works. Jessica McBride, a Wisconsin Right Now contributor, is a national award-winning journalist and journalism educator with more than 25 years in journalism. Jessica McBride’s journalism career started at the Waukesha Freeman newspaper in 1993, covering City Hall. She was an investigative, crime, and general assignment reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a decade. Since 2004, she has taught journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her work has appeared in many news outlets, including Heavy.com (where she is a contributor reaching millions of readers per month), Patch.com, WTMJ, WISN, WUWM, Wispolitics.com, OnMilwaukee.com, Milwaukee Magazine, Nightline, El Conquistador Latino Newspaper, Japanese and German television, Channel 58, Reader’s Digest, Twist (magazine), Wisconsin Public Radio, BBC, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, and others. 
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