In 2002, I joined Amy in Belleville, Illinois — just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis — where she was closing out her mother’s estate. I brought along my video gear because I wanted to shoot some video of the river and in and around St. Louis, where I lived for 11 years and met her.
We read in the Belleville paper that the Vietnams Veterans Traveling Memorial was coming to nearby Fairview Heights for a display and that Adrian Cronauer, the armed services disk jockey portrayed by Robin Williams in the film, “Good Morning, Vietnam,” would speak at the ceremony.
This was a double coincidence. Adrian and his wife, Jeane, have been friends since my days as a reporter for The Roanoke Times from 1965-69 and he and Jeane were neighbors in the same condominium building in Arlington in the 1990s through 2004 when we left the area and moved to Floyd. We decided to do a short documentary on the wall with Adrian’s help.
Amy manned my second video camera and we shot the film on the opening day of the exhibit at a memorial park in Fairview Heights, not far from Scott Air Force Base.
The original video was shot in standard-definition digital video — state of the art for the time and not as good as today’s high-definition, widescreen productions. Last week, I decided to remaster the video to try and improve the quality but a crash of my Mac video editing system prevented me from finishing the project until this morning. So instead of being posted on 11-11-11, the day I wanted to put it up, it goes up this morning.
Adrian does a great job telling the history of the traveling wall and Jennie LeFevere adds to the film with her story about the Agent Orange Quilt, which traveled to Fairview Heights with the video. She died in 2004 but the legacy of her quilt and the attention it garnered for Agent Orange lives on.
This was a special project because it was a collaborative effort with Amy, it had the help of a good friend and it concerned a subject that we care about very much — honoring those who serve our country.
It is posted here during Veterans Day weekend to honor not only those who served in Vietnam but in war and peace.
Thank you veterans.