Teacher honored by Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

DEARBORN — A local teacher was honored Nov. 11 in Washington, D.C., for her efforts to remember local fallen soldiers.

Lisa Lark, a history teacher at Edsel Ford High School, was honored with the Hometown Heroes Award, sponsored by the History Channel and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, for finding photos of all 69 Dearborn soldiers lost in the Vietnam War.

Lark’s project began in May 2010 following a Memorial Day ceremony at Edsel Ford High School and included an agreement with the city of Dearborn and the Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council. At press time, she has collected over 1,000 photos.

“It’s an amazing thing that’s happened, being able to speak with all these families,” Lark said. “It’s very exciting.”

The event, hosted by actor and VVMF national spokesman Tom Selleck, included members of U.S. Congress, the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and philanthropic leaders.

Lark’s work is part of a nationwide initiative to collect a photograph for each of the 58,272 soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

During the ceremony, Lark and former Edsel Ford student Michelle Kerr were on stage for a Veterans Day ceremony attended by thousands of Vietnam veterans and their families at The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The dinner raised funds for the Vietnam Memorial Visitors Center, expected to break ground in November 2012. The center will feature images, tell stories of service members and educate visitors on the value of service in America’s armed forces.

VVMF representative Adam Arbogast, a special guest in Dearborn’s Memorial Day parade and the VVMF, asked Lark to gather photos for each Michigan name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. During the ceremony, Lark presented a DVD with photos and biographies of the men from Dearborn to Arbogast for use by the VVMF.

Other awards were presented to former U.S. Senator Charles Hagel (R-Neb.) for his service in Vietnam and dedication to the VVMF, and Joseph Galloway, a Vietnam war correspondent and columnist for McClatchy newspapers in Sacramento, California. Lark said the honor was a blessing and she felt humbled by the award.

“Just to hear my name mentioned alongside these other great Americans. I think, ‘Who am I?’” she said.

Lark hopes her award raises awareness about Vietnam veterans and their sacrifices, and encourages others to get involved in the VVMF project.

“If (anyone has) a story about someone who fought and died in Vietnam or if (they) have a picture, please contact me,” she said. “I’ll see that they become part of the history of that conflict on display in Washington, D.C.”

Anyone with information or willing to provide assistance is asked to contact Lark at 313-410-8477 or by email at dearbornsvietnam@gmail.com.

Additional information about the VVMF is available at www.vvmf.org and details about the collaboration with the History Channel are at: www.vvmf.org/history_joins_call_for_photos.