Women on the wall honored with vigil

Tribune Chronicle / Christina Ramey Sandra Sarsany of Champion, a member of the Upton Association, talks about the eight women whose names are on The Wall That Heals during a vigil on Saturday.

WARREN — There are 58,318 names on The Wall That Heals. Of those names, eight are women.

Those eight women were honored by the Upton Association with a candlelight vigil at the wall Saturday evening.

The wall is a three-quarter traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The wall is displayed on the south lawn of Packard Music Hall until the closing ceremony at noon today before it leaves for its next stop in Howell, Mich.

“There were not only men, but women, who gave their lives in service of their country. And in particular, nurses,” Sandra Sarsany of Champion and member of the Upton Association said.

During the vigil, Sarsany talked about each of the women, stating their rank, where they were from and when they died.

“It’s right and proper that they are on the wall. They sacrificed their lives the same way that the men have that are on the wall,” Carol Olson of Howland said. “I think it’s appropriate that they be not on a separate wall, but on the wall with the men.”

Olson, a member of the Upton Association, said the vigil was started by Kay Fisher, another member of the association.

“Kay Fisher at that time didn’t know that there were women on the wall and she said, ‘Well we have to do that because women on the wall represent women who have progressed,'” Olson said.

The women on the wall were from across the United States. One of the women was born in Ireland, but was a nurse for the U.S. Army.

“I think honoring them goes a long way. I was in the Navy during the Vietnam War,” Darlene Freer of Howland said.

Freer was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station during the war.

“I knew two of them because they had gone through Great Lakes on their way over,” Freer said. “I didn’t know their names — we had just heard what happened.”

Becky Andres of Niles said the nation has come a long way.

“Today they’re out there fighting. They’re doing the nursing, but also they’re out there in combat,” Andres said.

It’s important to remember the women on the wall for future generations, Freer said.

“So that my children and my grandchildren understand how important it was,” Freer said.