While the State Fair of West Virginia does have its opportunities for fun with family and friends, there is always time for reflection and remembrance.
2017 marks the fourth straight state fair appearance for the West Virginia Vietnam Veterans Mobile Wall, a memorial where attendees can look upon the names of West Virginian soldiers who have gone missing in action or died from combat in the Vietnam War. This comes from a joint effort of the West Virginia Vietnam Veterans Association and the West Virginia National Guard, in which their ultimate mission is to honor and remember together.
Retired Petty Officer Second Class Rod Farley, vice president of the West Virginia Vietnam Veterans of America, has witnessed a dramatic impact on those who stop to pay their respects, especially from those currently serving.
"For our active duty personnel, they think it's a wonderful tribute to our men that's already fallen before them," he said. "They realize once they put the uniform on, they have to go in harm's way at any time. They know where we've been and what we went through."
Sergeant Josh Higginbotham of the 201st Field Artillery Unit in Maxwellton believes this collaboration between the National Guard he serves and their veteran brethren has sparked a partnership beyond the battlefield.
"We just talk back and forth all day," he said. "It's great. They tell us stories sometimes. They want to know what's the new stuff in the National Guard, in the military in general. It's a big family."
Aside from paying respects at the mobile memorial, State Fair attendees can meet some of our nation's veterans, take a tour of the artillery tanks on display, and learn more about the benefits of being in the National Guard.