Final Preparations Being Made for the Arrival of the The Wall That Heals

Bagpipes will play while the Governor is here.

By Larry Morrison

This is the final week before The Wall That Heals arrives in Ava.  The Douglas County Veterans Memorial Association members and volunteers have been extremely busy preparing for this event.

The Douglas County Veterans Memorial Association (DCVMA) received notification last December they were selected to host The Wall That Heals in Ava.  At that time, the September date seemed a long way away as veterans went to work organizing the event which included everything from finding a suitable location to host the wall, to methods of financing the event.  

The DCVMA has the full responsibility of financing The Wall so they had to find ways of paying expenses associated with bringing The Wall to Ava.  The DCVMA  began by selling sponsorships and T-shirts and seeking donations as well as selling raffle tickets to give away four guns, and a $17,000 Can-Am, Side by Side.  That meant the veterans also had to pay for the guns and the side by side.  It was quite a financial step but the members voted to do it.  

Since that time, DCVMA has set up tables at area stores as well as serve as guest vendors for Attorney Aaron Sachs at the Route 66 festival in Springfield.  In addition, DCVMA has the cook shack contract for the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association, operating the shack from 6:00 a.m. to midnight during the spring and fall horse show.  

To spread the word about the upcoming event, DCVMA distributed over 7,500 flyers and brochures, posted progress on Facebook, contacted all Missouri media outlets, and made several face to face presentations to local civic organizations, schools, churches, and political party groups.  Cans asking for contributions were also distributed throughout the area in 50 area businesses.  The DCVMA is still seeking donations and sponsors of this special event.

An honors ceremony is planned and confirms two keynote speakers with Dr. Jerry Davis, president of College of the Ozarks, and Missouri Governor Mike Parson.  

The ceremony will also include the playing of bagpipes, a traditional salute to honor fallen soldiers.  The honors event will acknowledge the names of Douglas County’s fallen soldiers who appear on the wall, and their family members and friends.

Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA) is playing an important part in this event by providing grounds, with use of electricity and lights needed for the event.  They have also provided parking for trailers.  

And,  Emergency Management  has donated 18,000 bottles of water to give to guests visiting The Wall.  

Initially, veterans said Ava had five veterans whose names were on the wall, but thanks to one of our Facebook readers, the DCVMA was notified of another veteran from Ava.  

Ed Ray whose address was Wasola had been listed as Ozark County; however, after checking, it was discovered that Mr. Ray did live in Wasola but had attended and graduated from Ava High School.  His name has now been added to the list of Ava veterans who will receive recognition during the ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 22.

In addition, a special shadow box display will recognize each of the six veterans at The Wall.  

If family members or friends have special items, such as a high school diploma, picture, military award or etc., if you would please provide the DCVMA with those items so they can be copied, we will display them in the shadow box at The Wall.  

In addition to Ed Ray, local veterans are George Lakey, David Knight, Dale Posey, Henry R. Longston and Lester C. McGinnis.  It is important we give our local veterans the honor they deserve.  If you can provide additional info on any of the above listed veterans please contact DCVMA at 417-849-1875. All items provided will be returned to the family if requested.

“The Wall is free to anyone who wants to visit. It is open 24 hours a day, rain or shine, once erected, states Bernie Holstine, commander of the DCVMA.  “Anyone wanting to escort The Wall should plan on being at the Lebanon airport at 12 o’clock noon, Tuesday, Sept. 18.  The Convoy begins at 1:00 p.m., and will arrive in Ava at approximately 2:30 p.m.”

The route will travel through Ava from the south intersection to the Square, going east off the Square to Mansfield Road.  The route will continue north on Mansfield Road to the elementary school, and then west Business 5, heading north toward McDonalds and the Highway 5 intersection, turning  north on Highway 5 to the MFTHBA show grounds.  For those interested in lining the route to welcome the convoy, The Wall should arrive in Ava at approximately 2:15 -2:30.

During The Wall, many schools have scheduled a time to visit, and the opportunity is still open for other school locations interested in attending. To reserve a spot, please call 849-1875, so all buses do not arrive at one time.

The DCVMA extends a public invitation to community members to please come out and show support for this special event.