PLYMOUTH, NE – Nebraska’s “Wall of the Fallen” after 9-11 honors the 84 Nebraskans who perished in the line of duty since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
The monument, which was created by Patriotic Productions in 2010, will be on display at the Plymouth Community Center this Saturday as the community holds its 72nd annual Veterans Day Observance.
One local hero, Benjamin Slaven of Plymouth, is among the 84 Nebraskans remembered on the “Wall of the Fallen.”
Slaven, a graduate of Tri County High School, passed away on June 9, 2006 at the age of 22 due to a roadside bomb.
Fred Meyer, Plymouth’s Village Board chairman and a Vietnam War vet, felt it important that Slaven be honored this Veteran’s Day by members of his community.
“I wanted to bring the wall to Plymouth and to the Tri County area to expose (the community) to Ben and to the 83 others on the wall,” Meyer said. “It’s just something that I, and the Legion Post, thought needed to be done. Just to make sure that this gentleman deserves some honor.”
Meyer served in the Vietnam War from 1971-1972. He was stationed at the Long Binh Post, which was the major command headquarters United States Army Vietnam. At the time, it was the largest army base in Vietnam.
The base was located about 12 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon.
“I was pretty secure over there,” Meyer recalled. “But, these gentlemen (on the Wall of the Fallen), most of them that were killed (in the Middle East), were about my about my age. It’s about honoring them.”
Also on display Saturday will be the Veteran Club of Fairbury’s “Wall of the Fallen – Vietnam,” which honors 16 local heroes who perished in the Vietnam War.
Saturday’s ceremony begins at 10:45 a.m. with a performance by the Tri County High School Band, followed by the raising of the U.S. Flag, firing volleys and the playing of Taps and the National Anthem.
Saturday’s ceremony will also include guest speakers, a lunch and a raffle. All proceeds go toward veteran organizations.
Saturday’s guest speaker will be Steve Swarthout – father of the late Spc. Drae William James Swarthout. Drae served in the 275th Ranger Regiment and 82nd Airborne Division from 2012-2016. He earned many medals and honors, including the honor of top rifleman in the 275th Ranger Regiment.
Drae passed away on Feb. 27 of this year at the Crystal Springs Campground just outside of Fairbury. He died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 24.
Veteran’s Day is a poignant time, especially for families of fallen heroes. Meyer knows this, but he also knows it’s a time to celebrate those who made the ultimate sacrifice and also those who continue to serve.
“Saturday will be a very good time of remembering and honoring our veterans,” Meyer said. “Honoring the people that currently serve, but also honoring the ones who have died in combat.”
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