7/11/2017 7:29:00 AM Memorial wall at Camp American Legion dedicated Wetzel: 'It's part of all of us'
Brian Jopek/Lakeland Times
Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Gary Wetzel stands next to the wall named after him at Camp American Legion on Friday.
With the outgoing commander of the Wisconsin American Legion Daniel Seehafer looking on, Gary Wetzel, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War awarded the Medal of Honor, says a few words to the audience Friday at a dedication of a memorial wall in his name.
In the middle of an interview Friday at Camp American Legion, Gary Wetzel noticed something wrong with the way the American flag was going to be displayed by two U.S. soldiers.
It was between the flag for the state of Wisconsin and the American Legion flag.
"Hey, Dog," Wetzel said to a friend. "You wanna tell 'em they did it wrong? The American flag doesn't belong in the middle."
"It's OK, Gary, I'll get it," Dave Kurtz, the adjutant for the Wisconsin American Legion, told him.
Wetzel, a disabled U.S. veteran of the Vietnam War, was being honored again with a memorial wall bearing the Medal of Honor recipient's name.
The wall is at the trail head for the mile-long Gary G. Wetzel Way and Friday its formal dedication took place.
There was a formal dedication for the trail in June 2016, as well.
"It's an honor to even be thought of to have something named after oneself," Wetzel said during his brief remarks at last year's dedication.
Friday, he kept his remarks brief again but, as he usually does, delivered a message with them.
'It's going to be growing'
In August of last year, Wetzel was involved in a motorcycle accident and needed a little time to get to the front of the audience of approximately 50 people.
"Last year, I was in better shape when I was up here," he said. "Aug. 7, at 70 miles an hour, I fell off a motorcycle. I had a part broke and I went down. Once it happened, I couldn't walk and now, I'm walking. I had to be here for this special occasion, for this wall, for what it symbolizes, what it means."
The way the wall is built, it can be added to as time goes on, something Wetzel addressed in his comments.
"We look at a project that's started, but also a project that's not completed but built," he said. "It's going to be growing and growing and growing down the way. That's what's kind of neat about it. You can come back and you can reflect on what it's all about."
The men and women, Wetzel said, who walk this trail and served their country, will have a remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"For you and I to be here," he said. "That's what it's all about. Life. Not the end of life but life in general."
Wetzel said he was "proud as a peacock" to be at Camp American Legion and at the wall.
"I'm just one of the peas in the pod to be here for it," he said. "I want to thank everybody for letting me share part of your day and ... what the heck. God bless America."
In his interview with The Lakeland Times, Wetzel said when he does things in life, he does them for everybody.
"You try to make an impact or do something good with people," he said. "You do things in life to put a smile on somebody's face or bring some happiness in somebody's heart."
Wetzel said the wall represents a little of what life is all about.
"Some of the things we start in life, some of the things we go through in life and we end life," he said. "It's part of all of us."
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at email@example.com.