The Carthage Press
  • Veteran stops in Carthage on memorial tour

  • As a Vietnam veteran himself, memorials to one of America's most controversial wars are special to Bruce Campbell.
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  • As a Vietnam veteran himself, memorials to one of America's most controversial wars are special to Bruce Campbell.
    Causes that help veterans in that decade-long conflict, and the other wars America has participated in over the recent decades, are also important to the Denver, Colo., resident.
    On Friday, Campbell stopped in Carthage on the eighth day of his year-long Vietnam Veterans Memorial Tour to catalogue and learn more about the memorial on the south side of Central Park.
    The Carthage monument is one of almost 800 monuments Campbell has in a database he's compiled, and now he's spending the coming year trying to visit every one of those memorials.
    Campbell said his could be the largest and most comprehensive database of Vietnam monuments in existence.
    “I had already visited, just in normal travels around the country, more than 30 memorials,” Campbell said as he stood at the polished black stone monument that features the names of 1,412 Missourians who died in Vietnam.
    “When I go places I would try to see if there was one nearby and I just thought, maybe there are 40 or 50 more that I can visit,” Campbell said. “I started looking into them and right now I'm at 785. That includes four I didn't know about a week ago, so I have a feeling that the number may be closer to 1,000 by the time I've done.”
    Campbell is so committed to this project he has planned it meticulously for the past three years, and has even rented out his Denver home, meaning he has to stay out for the next year.
    He said he has many goals with this project.
    One goal is personal and spiritual.
    “At each memorial I do a prayer for whatever I find there,” Campbell said. “It can be for an individual soldier, it can be for a community or a state, it can be for an action or a squad or operation, it just depends on what I see there because every one of them is different.”
    Another goal is to create something that preserves and catalogue's every monument.
    “I want to do something to be able to preserve all of these memorials in one place,” Campbell said. “whether that be a book or a slide show, an e-book, whatever it happens to be.”
    Campbell said he also hopes to raise money for and spotlight causes that help veterans, especially veterans helping veterans.
    “I'm not particular about that in terms of only Vietnam-era veterans causes,” he said. “Some of the ones I've chosen help veterans get jobs, some help them transition from military to civilian life, housing, end of life issues, those are primarily for World War II and Korea era veterans.”
    Page 2 of 2 - A postcard Campbell hands out as he travels lists a number of specific causes, including Operation First Response, The Soldier's Project, Transitioning Veterans, The Wounded Warrior Program and others.
    Campbell said he's interviewing people who have created local programs to help veterans as he travels on his tour.
    He's also photographing and recording all the information he can about the memorials.That information will be recorded on his website and could be used for an e-book or even a printed book about the monuments.
    Campbell said he is recording his travels on a Facebook page titled Vietnam Veterans Memorial Tour, and on a website, www.VVMTour.org.
    Campbell said veterans organizations across the country are helping him with his journey. The Carthage VFW Post paid for Campbell to stay Friday night in a Carthage motel before he moved on to Pittsburg, Girard and Pleasanton in Kansas on Saturday. His itinerary is listed on his website and ends May 1, 2014 at the Vietnam Veterans Wall in Washington D.C.
    Dick Frink, a Carthage veteran of World War II, said he thought Campbell's project was definitely worthy of support.
    “It's a really great project,” Frink said. “If he can get this thing going and it's out there for the public and they can have something that's factual, that they know where it's at and why, this is great.”
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