A door to wartime past, preserved and to be dedicated Sept. 23
The door from the former Grand Rapids Bus Depot will be dedicated 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, at Hodgins-Berardo Arena in Coleraine. Eight Itasca County Vietnam veterans who were killed or missing in action will be honored.
COLERAINE — When the construction of the new Itasca County Justice Center caused the removal of several downtown buildings, Vietnam veteran Kenny Clafton wanted to make sure that one specific door was saved from the rubble. That door was once the portal to the Redding Bus Depot.
According to the VFW No. 1720 Auxiliary, many of those who walked through that door were bound for military service, especially in the 1960s and ‘70s during America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
Lisa Randall from the Auxiliary and local Vietnam veteran, Dennis Jerome (better known to KAXE listeners as “DJ the DJ") joined Sarah Bignall and Chris Walker on the KAXE Morning Show Thursday, Sept. 21, to discuss the door and what it means.
“I think the biggest significance is that passage through the door and returning not the same person,” Jerome said. “I was an innocent, wide-eyed boy from the Midwest, and boy, I lost my innocence when I entered the military.”
The Itasca County Historical Society worked for several years to collect local veterans’ stories. The society notes there were eight Itasca County veterans killed or missing in action during the Vietnam conflict: Robert Anders, Richard Antonovich, Norris Brenden, Ronald Fraser, Lauren “Renny” Huerd, Richard Koski, Dennis Smith and Ronald Zemple.
There are nine window panes on the bus depot door, and eight of the panes will include information about each of these men. The ninth will tell the story of the door and what it represents. Organizers noted America’s veterans may not have walked through that specific door. But each one walked through a door — or many doors — on their way to begin their service or ultimate sacrifice for the country.
“I think the biggest significance is that passage through the door and returning not the same person."Dennis Jerome, Vietnam veteran
The door will be dedicated 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Hodgins-Berardo Arena in Coleraine. The public is encouraged to attend. There will be a social reception to follow at the Locker Room Bar in Coleraine. After the door’s dedication, it will be on display at the VFW Post No. 1720 in Grand Rapids.
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