Inaugural Veterans Town Hall
Monday, November 11 was a glorious and beautiful day in Davidson. At 11:00 a.m. hundreds gathered in front of Town Hall to take time out of busy schedules to honor our Nation’s veterans.
After that ceremony concluded, and as Davidson firefighters began lowering the huge American flag that had been flown from the town’s ladder truck, a smaller group of people gathered in the Board Room of Town Hall. They came together for the inaugural “Vets Town Hall.”
Organizers Christian Boggiano and Mike Murphy (Army veterans) along with Tom Rynne and Bob Doran (USMC veterans) planned the event to help bridge the gap between Veterans and the civilian community. Veterans will be afforded a place to meet, as well as the opportunity to talk about their experiences in a Town Hall style format. Boggiano and Murphy credited the idea and format for the event to Sebastian Junger, prominent author and documentarian known for his work “The Perfect Storm,” “Tribe,” and the documentary “Restrepo.”
All too often, veterans are not afforded the opportunity to tell their own stories. The “Vets Town Hall” will be scheduled for two hours and will allow any Combat Veteran to speak for approximately five to ten minutes. The public is encouraged and welcome to listen to vets and their stories. The premise was simple: the more veterans and civilians understand the complications from war, the better it is for both.
That simple idea turned into a powerful, often intense and emotional forum for veterans and the members of community who attended. In the end, 9 local veterans talked about their wartime experiences. Several veterans gave specific details of events seared into their memories from several years ago or several decades ago. Whether a platoon leader in Vietnam or a convoy commander in Iraq, their words painted very personal pictures of their wartime experiences. There was also discussion of the support of the American public.
One Vietnam Veteran said that he told no one that he had just returned from Vietnam when he joined the local workforce, noting the opposition of the war. However, juxtaposed to that story he shared that he recently participated in an “Honor Flight” to Washington, DC. Following the tour of the monuments and memorials in Washington, he said that his flight returned to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. where more than 400 people were on hand to greet their flight. With a lump in his throat he said that it was the first time he had been welcomed “home.”
The Veterans Town Hall was billed as an inaugural event. It is our hope that it will become an annual event, and that we do more to offer our veterans the opportunity to share their stories.