On Oct. 28, 2023, more than 50 people gathered outside the History Room at the Bristol Public Library. They were there to dedicate a display in memory of the local Vietnam veterans, to include the 17 from Bristol who lost their lives in the war. The display case housed items left at the Traveling Vietnam/The Wall That Heals when it left Bristol in 2016. American Legion Post 2 took charge of the items and has been working on making a forever home for them. In September 2022 the Vietnam veterans were named Hometown Heroes. This year the showcase happened.
This event happened thanks to the work of the Bristol Public Library 50th Vietnam War Commemoration Committee, the Friends of the Library and the Post 2 “Seicheprey.” All funding for the display case and the plaque was raised from donations. No library, federal or American Legion money was used.
The second part of the ceremony was to recall and honor a former commander of Post 2 and former mayor of Bristol along with being a Vietnam veteran who cared greatly for all veterans. Scott Stanton from the Bristol Library began the ceremony. Pat Ward led all in the Pledge of Allegiance. CSM (ret.) Ed Literland and MSG (ret.) Tim Gamache performed the Missing Man Ceremony. Art Ward led this ceremony for many years up until his passing.
The commander of Post 2, Richard Schreiner Jr., signed over the items and assisted with unveiling the case. A Vietnam-era poncho liner was used to cover the display case.
The Friends of the Library thanked all who made donations to the display. A special thanks to those who donated the plaques.
Paul Fitta spoke next. He talked about the days he served with Art in Vietnam and their friendship after the war. He also spoke about a song Art had his kids sing whenever Paul visited. Something about the Boston Red Sockets not being a great team.
Pat Ward carried a plaque forward in honor of her husband. The plaque was mounted on the wall next to the display case.
Kim Ward Holley talked about her father and read a few letters her father sent to the local papers over the years to remember the Vietnam veterans.
A few friends stood and recalled days with Art.
Refreshments were served afterwards.