As a member of the 101st Airborne in Vietnam, Thomas Twigg did his duty and completed his mission. Now this disabled veteran and his wife, Dee, have a personal mission. The Twiggs intend to bring the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to people all over the country who cannot travel to Washington D.C. For the Twiggs it is imperative that all veterans and their family members have the opportunity to seek some closure in return for answering the call of duty. Financial and physical hardships should not hinder this.

To fulfill this mission, Tom and Dee have constructed a replica Wall that stands 8 feet tall and 46 feet long. The scaled size allows the Wall to be displayed indoors as well as out. And, because the names are closer together, despite the smaller size, the impact is huge. “It hits you all at once,” says Tom. “It brings back the reality of what it cost us to be over there.”

The Kissimmee residents have been traveling for several years now, displaying the Wall at community events, schools, VA Hospitals and other locations. They will be bringing the Wall to Lazydays RV SuperCenter in Seffner, FL on February 15, 2011.

Recently I had the privilege of speaking with the Tom Twigg about his mission, motivation and goals.

 

AP: What motivated you to take on this project:

“We have a beautiful Memorial in Washington D.C. During the 2-1/2 years I spent in the West Haven, Connecticut VA Hospital I saw my fellow veterans take many day trips to the Wall. The bedridden patients of course couldn’t go! The van was not equipped for them. Since then I’ve been to the Memorial in Washington twice. But what about the Veterans and families who, for financial or physical restrictions, can’t make the trip? Are they not allowed some closure, a last goodbye?”

 

AP: So your goal is to help Veterans and families find closure?

“Our mission is two-fold. First, to reach every confined, hospitalized or paralyzed Veteran and family member who is either physically or financially unable to visit the Memorial in Washington, D.C. Second, to educate schoolchildren about the real hazards of war so that these future community and government leaders truly understand the consequences. ”

 

AP: So, the veterans are finding closure and the kids understand that those names are not just numbers in a history book, but real people, real lives.

“There is no better teacher than each of those 58,000-plus names on the Wall.”

 

AP: Tell me about the process of building the Wall. What was it like?

“It was and is a process of love. A lot of long hours and seemingly endless days. All hit and miss. Learning from our mistakes. But it’s all worth it though when you see the tears of happiness and sadness once they find a name and have the opportunity to reflect.”

 

AP: When you display the Wall, what has the response been?

“The response has been tremendous. People tell us they have found closure, a sense of release. People leave mementos at the wall. We have all types of items – pictures, baseball gloves, letters, flowers, etc. We carry a lot with us. Others we forward to D.C. Everything has a story behind it. Everything has meaning.”

 

AP: So each person who visits has the opportunity to reflect or interact with the Wall in his or her own way?

“Yes. We let them know we are there to try to answer any questions they might have, but we’re not there to put on a show. If they ask, we help them find the name they are looking for. Then we try to leave them alone with their memories, and let them find peace.”

 

AP: Your home base is in Central Florida, but you have been traveling all over the State, even up and down the East Coast with the Wall.

“We want to go everywhere we can. Wherever there are veterans or their families who need closure, who need peace.”

 

AP: Aside from the event at Lazydays on February 15, what else is on your immediate itinerary?

“We have a venue Memorial Day in Rainelle, West Virginia. Then we are going to the VA Hospital in Beckley, West Virginia. We also have a VA Hospital in Phoenix that has asked us to try to get there. Finances being what they are, that one is a long shot, but we’re working on it!”

 

AP: How are you funding this mission?

“Right now we are paying for this out of pocket, with my disability and our Social Security. We decided to purchase the RV, a 1996 Sunrise, so we could reduce costs by eliminating motels and restaurants. Most of the time we can set up on location. But, with the price of fuel, insurance, wall maintenance and travel expenses it’s getting tough. Bottom line is, to keep doing this work, we need sponsors to step up to the plate.”

 

AP: What can we expect at Lazydays on February 15?

“We will be there with the Wall to do what we always do, offer closure to those who may have someone on the wall and hopefully to make more people aware that we are out there and what our mission is. We have also started doing a panel, for each state we go to, for our Fallen Heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan. That will also be on display.”

 

 AP: Thank you again for your service and for what you are doing for our veterans. See you on February 15.

 “Thank you. See you then.”

 

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Was this really news? (07.29.19)

Was this really news? (07.29.19)

A lot happened last week. Most of it didn’t make the news. Unfortunately, some of it did... In POLITICS, with the next 48-hour Democratic Primary Death Match nearly upon us, pundits desperately tried to squeeze the last bit of drama out of this entirely...

Was this really news this week? (July 22, 2019)

Was this really news this week? (July 22, 2019)

A lot happened this week. Most of it didn’t make the news. What did was, well, here goes… In MEDIA News, CNN, one step away from openly begging for ratings like Jeb Bush asking for applause, actually held a “live draft” for the upcoming Democratic Primary...

Was This Really News This Week (July 15, 2019)

Was This Really News This Week (July 15, 2019)

Time for another installment of The Week That Was, in which we wish were making up more of this than we actually are. In NATIONAL News: as they have on so many previous July 4ths, the nation’s farmers showed up strong, managing to effectively deter all the...

Was This Really News This Week (July 8, 2019)

Was This Really News This Week (July 8, 2019)

Back from vacation. Let’s check the news: In weather: California took a break from constant fires to try some earthquakes. Scary stuff. Hope everyone is okay. Meanwhile, there’s a developing storm system in the Gulf that decided to skip the summer road...

Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs State Park

People have been returning to what is now Rainbow Springs State Park for 10,000 years. One trip and it’s easy to see why. You could put a picture of the park in the dictionary next to “idyllic” and no one could argue. To say this nearly 1500-acre natural...

Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs State Park

People have been returning to what is now Rainbow Springs State Park for 10,000 years. One trip and it’s easy to see why. You could put a picture of the park in the dictionary next to “idyllic” and no one could argue. To say this nearly 1500-acre natural...

Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park

Destin, Florida, on the northern end of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s Panhandle, is a haven for vacationers looking for exciting water sports and family fun. And, if you would rather slow it down and relax your days away, there is no better spot in...

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa Springs is a surprise. Although it is an official State Park, this land has been a tourist attraction for a century, and it feels more like a theme park than a place of relaxation. Though a day here is undoubtedly relaxing as well. In the early...

Help! I’m a Creative Writer

Help! I’m a Creative Writer

“I want to be a creative writer, but I need creative writing help.” I hear some version of that phrase at least once a week — often spoken as a whispered lament, as if asking for creative writing help was somehow shameful. It’s definitely not, and I would...

Biloxi: Explore Beyond the One-Armed Bandit

Biloxi: Explore Beyond the One-Armed Bandit

We are standing on Biloxi Town Green. A row of casinos and a huge neon guitar block our view of the beach, but we are not looking in that direction. In front of us is the Katrina Memorial, a granite monument to the lives lost when one of the worst natural...

Estero Island: Waterfront Fun on Fort Myers Beach

Estero Island: Waterfront Fun on Fort Myers Beach

A Florida sunset paradise, the thriving island community of Fort Myers Beach on Estero Island, on Florida’s southwest coast, offers fine dining, island style shopping and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and water sports fun. Plus, Estero Island...

A Lasting Commission from LtCol Faircloth

A Lasting Commission from LtCol Faircloth

One of the highlights of my writing career was the day I got a call from LtCol H. Spencer Faircloth (Ret.). Spence wanted my help writing a book about his extraordinary life. He didn’t land at Normandy on D-Day. He was still a kid, back home in Georgia,...

Horrific Tragedy in a Beautiful World

Horrific Tragedy in a Beautiful World

On Easter morning, while millions around the world gathered in worship and celebration, a handful of religious fanatics came together to murder Christians, to murder families enjoying a holiday vacation… to murder at least 45 children. The speculation as...