Traveling Wall gets welcome and escort to the Tropicana
LAUGHLIN — The AVTT Traveling Vietnam Wall made its way to Laughlin for its third appearance Nov. 7 and Fred Doten helped escort the Wall to the Tropicana Laughlin for Veterans Day weekend.
Doten, a member of the American Legion Richard Springston Post 60, was one of several Legion members to help escort the traveling version of the famous memorial.
“Most of us live by the Legion’s preamble,” said Doten.
“For God and Country we associate ourselves together for the following purposes:
To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America;
To maintain law and order;
To foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism;
To preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great Wars;
To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation;
To combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses;
To make right the master of might;
To promote peace and goodwill on earth;
To safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy;
To consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.”
Being able to escort the traveling wall to the Tropicana is an honor, said Doten.
It’s a fulfillment of a duty. The Tropicana asks the Legion to do it and there isn’t anyone who would decline, he said.
“It may be a replica, but that doesn’t matter,” said Doten. “The meaning associated with The Wall (in Washington, D.C.), is as much for the traveling wall.”
The traveling version gives many people the chance to see their loved ones, friends and family on The Wall when maybe otherwise they couldn’t, said Doten.
Not everyone can travel to Washington, D.C. to see it due to expense so it’s still as valuable to be able to see the traveling version, he continued.
Escorting the traveling version is a privilege and it feels like he’s come full circle, given his trip to Washington, D.C. earlier this year.
Doten was one of hundreds of riders to participate in the Run for the Wall, which takes riders from California, cross country to Washington, D.C., as part of the Rolling Thunder experience.
Normally few riders are allowed into the national cemetery but about 400 riders were allowed for the special occasion, Doten said.
It was an incredible experience, he said. The group got to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The ride itself was more than just a ride, said Doten.
The riding part was a bit stressful because everyone has to be in formation, riders were changed out daily and other elements added some difficulty, but it was well worth it, he said.
“The emotion of it all was fantastic,” said Doten. “We went through towns and everywhere there were great people and they were waving flags, there were firetrucks holding up flags. We (rarely) had to buy fuel or meals.”
The experience was more than riding, Doten said.
Organizers gave riders and their passengers biographies of those who are on the wall and the biographies were read aloud, giving life to those no longer here.
“Each biography was laminated,” said Doten. “We were responsible for taking those biographies to The Wall.”
He and his daughters, who joined him for the journey, carried eight or nine biographies.
Once the entire group reached the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the biographies were left there by the corresponding names.
“I went to The Wall,” said Doten. “This time The Wall came to me.”
He was excited to be able to escort the traveling version of the memorial and wore the same shirt he bought for the Run for the Wall ride.
“It would be nice if everyone could experience The Wall,” said Doten.