Vietnam veteran from Vergas, Minnesota chosen to help read 58,281 names during Washington D.C. ceremony
As Minnesota man Jim Clemenson read the names on the The Wall, he recognized two of them as his classmates from West Fargo.
VERGAS, Minn. — A Vergas, Minnesota man, who spent decades serving our country, had quite the honor in Washington D.C. recently.
Jim Clemenson was selected to be one of the volunteers who took part in "the reading of the names" at the Vietnam Wall.
The special event highlighted the 40th anniversary of The Wall, which was dedicated in 1982.
The black granite monument stretches 500 feet. Carved into it are thousands of names of those who gave their lives in Vietnam. Hundreds of memory items are still left at the monument daily, 40 years after The Wall was dedicated.
As part of this month's efforts to mark those 40 years, Jim Clemenson, who joined the Army at the age of 18 and served in Vietnam, volunteered with others to read the names of those on the Vietnam Wall — every one.
"(There are) 58,281 names," Clemenson, who was in the service 41 years, said.
The volunteers read the names in shifts, from early morning to midnight.
"Just an honor for one thing, and I just feel obligated to do it, as a patriot," said Clemenson, who says the military taught service before self, excellence in all you do and integrity first.
It is the fourth time Jim has done this. He feels called to do this.
"Well, it means a lot. The first couple times I went there, it was tough," he said.
There are moments, at the wall, when names are called out that Jim recognizes.
"Two of the guys I graduated from West Fargo with — David F. Johnson and Brent Sveen," Clemenson said.
Now, 40 years after its dedication, The Wall provides many a chance to honor, and Jim says, it is a place to heal.