Opinion

The Clydesdales and the Veterans Wall

Friday, July 1, 2016

To the Editor:

As most people who have read the DAR these past several days, from June 6th to June 12th, several thousand men women and children celebrated the week-long visit to Poplar Bluff by the Clydesdales. These magnificent "gentle giants" came here to parade and help celebrate several outstanding events. Among those were the Wappapello Dam's 75th Anniversary, Sacred Heart Catholic Church and School 125th Anniversary, Three Rivers College 50th Anniversary, Poplar Bluff Library's 100th Anniversary. Visits were also made to the VA Medical Center and several restaurants -- Buffalo Wild Wings, El Acapulco, Colton's, Exotic Grill, and Las Margaritas. Two supermarkets were also a part of the final parade -- Walmart Neighborhood Market and Harps. From Monday, June 6th, until Sunday, June 12th, the Black River Coliseum "stabled" these "gentle giants," 10 Clydesdales and Clyde, the beautiful 3-year-old Dalmatian dog. From Tuesday to Friday hundreds of families visited and took pictures and received information from the Clydesdales caretakers about their ages and activities.

On Thursday evening another major event was arranged at the Black River Coliseum, which was attended by 600 or more people. Hundreds of pictures of the Clydesdales (selfies and regular photos) were taken and food catered by The Bread Company and beverages were provided by the sponsors and was served to everyone.

Also, on this Thursday evening event, hundreds of people contributed $25 to add their names to the red brick of the floor of the Veteran's Memorial Wall. Some also paid $60 to provide a US Service Member's name. These contributions will help provide the funds ($12,000 ) necessary to pay for the two NEW black marble monument signs which IDENTIFY the VETERANS MEMORIAL WALL. Thank you very much for your contributions. We hope that, from now on, anyone who passes this Memorial Wall honoring our Service Men and Women will recognize it. The wall is truly one of Missouri's finest.

The two NEW black marble monument signs have been installed with the American Flag at the top followed by white wording on the front which reads: Veterans Memorial Wall - Honoring Those Who Served, and on the back of the monument sign: Veterans Memorial Wall- Dedicated November 11, 1999.

Finally, and also very important to the success of the Clydesdale visit, a debt of thanks and gratitude is due to Chris Shrum and his staff. Chris knew how important this was to the Veteran's Memorial Wall Committee and to all of us. We should never forget the sacrifices and service of all of those 2,800 names on the Wall. Thanks also for the 600+ names who are on the red floor bricks.

In addition, the Chamber of Commerce partnered with Chris Shrum and his team to promote the event on social media. The reach it had was over 92,000 people and thousands engaged. Everyone that interacted on social media provided positive feedback such as: "Those horses are awesome and they are beautiful!" "Went to Buffalo Wild Wings Wednesday at 5:30 PM Clydesdales were there it was great seeing them. The horses are beautiful. I always try to see them whenever they are local. The Dalmatian on the wagon was also beautiful!"

Again, if anyone who reads these comments and has an interest in names on the red floor bricks ($25) or names of US Service Men and Women who needed to be added to the Wall ($60 each name) please contact: Betty Pruitt, Bee Hive Natural Foods, 573-686-3025, Bobby Godwin, Black River Coliseum, 573-686-8001, Tucker Davis, First Midwest Bank (573) 785-8461.

Tom Lawson

Poplar Bluff, Mo.

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