This summer, the St. Regis Mohawk Akwesasne Reserve’s American Legion Post #1479 hosted “The Moving Wall,” a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall located in Washington D.C.
The Moving Wall, which has been traveling the country for more than 20 years, was created by Vietnam Veteran John Devitt who saw the need for Veterans that were not in the vicinity of Washington D.C. to pay their respects and reflect in their own towns. American Legion Post #1479 Commander Todd Conner, a St. Regis Mohawk and Marine Gulf-war veteran, was excited that the Moving Wall was able to make a stop in Akwesasne.
“We got lucky,” said Conner. “We put in the application eight months ago and I expected about two years until it would be here. They called us and said, we have an opening in July, are you interested? I said yes, of course.”
Though he was optimistic Conner said meeting the costs associated with bringing the memorial to his area was a top priority. The Legion did a lot of fundraising to raise approximately $13,000.
“This is not a cheap endeavor,” Conner said. Conner also said he was appreciative that the memorial wall came to Native land and honored those Native veterans that gave the ultimate sacrifice. “I think this is incredible. I am almost certain that we are the first American Legion located on Native land that hosted the Memorial wall. A lot of our members are from the Vietnam era and they are not getting any younger. They have a lot of pride.”
“There are also service members from the Akwesasne area that are on the wall. These service members were just young guys and they stepped up to the plate. The families are stepping up and it is hitting close to home,” said Conner. The Moving Wall arrived in Akwesasne on July 18 and took about four hours to set up. The wall remained at the American Legion #1479 grounds for 6 days and was dismantled on July 24.
On Saturday July 21, the American Legion #1479 and tribal members hosted a grand opening tribute pow-wow style event with Native drummers, singers and dancers.