By Kristin Rover
The American Veterans Traveling Tribute arrived to Veterans’ Memorial Park in Union Township Oct. 9, but that was just the beginning of bringing the memorial to life.
John Barron, with American Veterans Traveling Tribute, is in charge of the setup and takedown of the tribute and also travels across the country pulling the trailer that contains all of the pieces of the tribute.
“Setup averages about four hours,” Barron said. “Takedown is about half that amount.”
Barron said in their contract they require volunteers from the area to help erect the memorial. He said without volunteers it would be nearly impossible to get it set up in time.
“About 15 people can get it up in four hours,” Barron said.
Volunteers with Total Quality Logistics, Clermont County Veterans’ Service Commission, and other organizations came out early Thursday morning to help.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get involved and honor those we should be honoring,” Jackie Osborne, a volunteer with TQL, said.
Thad Airhart, a volunteer with TQL, said as a veteran helping with the memorial is a big deal for him.
“I’m a veteran,” Casey Tritt, with TQL, said. “I look for any volunteer opportunity I can get out and participate.”
Volunteers helped unload panels of the wall and install them into the proper place along the wall.
“It’s kind of a wash, rinse, repeat process,” Barron said about erecting the wall.
Once the wall is complete it is an 80 percent replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It is 360 feet long and 8 feet tall at the apex. There is also an additional 190 feet of displays that goes with the Cost of Freedom Tribute.
Barron said most often the wall is on display for three to four days.
“Normally we get in Wednesday, set up Thursday and it comes down Sunday afternoon,” Barron said.
He said exceptions to that are holidays including Veterans Day.
Barron, who lives in Texas, said he travels with the tribute much of the year until winter. He said traveling with the tribute is a special experience.
“It’s gratifying to me,” Barron said about his job. “I get to take these all over the country for people who don’t get to Washington, D.C. to see it.”
For more information about the American Veterans Traveling Tribute visit www.avtt.org.