AV Wall still ‘brings people together’ after 10 years

Hundreds of veterans, family members and community supporters enjoyed a beautiful autumn morning at the Palmdale Amphitheater, as the AV Wall hosted its Veterans Day Celebration Ceremony Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.

Commemorating the day and the hour when the armistice agreement that effectively ended World War I was signed, the event provided an opportunity to recognize and honor veterans of all eras for their service and sacrifice to ensure our nation’s freedom.

In addition to commemorative pin presentations and recognition of all veterans in attendance, the ceremony featured music by the Guardian Brass Air National Guard Band ensemble, a selection of old-time pop ballads crooned by local entertainer “Rat Pack Ricky” Medlin, and a keynote address by Edwards AFB 412th Test Wing commander, Brig. Gen. E. John “Dragon” Teichert.

Blue Star mother and co-chair of the 10th Anniversary AV Wall Committee Stacia Nemeth welcomed the enthusiastic crowd, saying, “The AV Wall and the City of Palmdale host this celebration to let you know how much we appreciate our veterans’ service and their sacrifice.” She noted the services provided by the all-volunteer staff of the AV Wall organization, which include assistance and counseling for veterans in need.

A key player in the AV Wall’s outreach to veterans is Mike Bertell, Vietnam combat veteran and outpost leader of Point Man Antelope Valley, the local non-profit organization charged as guardians of the AV Wall. Bertell and other volunteers host weekly talk-therapy meetings at Antelope Valley College, which provide a safe environment for military veterans of all ages and backgrounds to share their stories and work toward healing their non-physical war wounds. Bertell spoke briefly to the assembled guests, followed by presentation of the Colors by the Highland High School AFJROTC Cadet Group, under the direction of Maj. Conrad Hernandez.

In Memorium – An assortment of flowers, letters and mementos are placed along the base of the Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall during the Nov. 2019 exhibit. Non-perishable items that have not been retrieved by the time the display ends are picked up by volunteers and often preserved in the Wall’s display of memorabilia. (Photograph by Adrienne King)

In his keynote address, Teichert sounded a resonant theme on the power of serving together. From the unifying principles outlined by the original settlers of our country in the Mayflower Compact; to the pledges of unity and mutual cooperation central to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence; to the promises of freedom, justice and opportunity put forward by our leaders as governments re-establish peace and cooperation after times of war, the power of acting together in high purposes is a characteristic of strength, not only for our nation, but for our active duty and veteran service members. Faithful service is the key, said Teichert. “The veterans’ community here in the Aerospace Valley is thriving,” he said, “because you are serving together. If you are a veteran, you should stand tall, you should stand proud and undoubtedly, you must continue to stand together. In order for us to accomplish our mission here in this community and in this country … we must continue to do it serving faithfully together.”

Teichert then joined AV Wall committee members and other dignitaries in attendance, including California State Senator Scott Wilk and state Assemblyman Tom Lackey, in the presentation of Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pins and Presidential Proclamation Certificates to all Vietnam-era veterans in attendance. Following the recognition of Vietnam veterans, non-veteran members of the audience assisted in presenting special AV Wall 10th Anniversary pins to veterans of all eras in attendance. The Guardian Brass ensemble joined in the festive atmosphere, with a rousing, audience-accompanied rendition of the Armed Forces Medley, featuring anthems from all branches of service.

Coffee 4 Veterans president Juan Blanco (right) receives thanks for his military service from Brig. Gen. E. John Teichert, 412th Test Wing commander, as AV Wall Committee member Steve Willis looks on. In the background are California State Senator Scott Wilk and Assemblyman Tom Lackey, who also participated in the Nov. 11 ceremony to thank veterans for their service. (Photograph by Lisa Kinison)

The AV Wall, more formally known as the Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall, is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. This year’s display in Palmdale is the 17th in the Wall’s 10-year history. Funded entirely by individual and business contributions, the AV Wall is an official Commemorative Partner of the Vietnam War Commemoration.

The next public display of the AV Wall is scheduled for March 2020 in El Centro, Calif., for National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

To learn more about the AV Wall and how you can support Point Man Antelope Valley, please visit www.avwall.org.

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