Visitors walk and relax as they look over a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Saturday, August 14, 2021 at Young Patriot’s Park in Riverview, Michigan. Jose Juarez special to Detroit News.
The “Traveling Wall” was in my community last week and then moved on to the location of this article. Once erected, the area became ‘hallowed ground” and treated accordingly. Visitors were there 24 hours a day. If you’ve never been to D.C., visiting this memorial is the next best thing…for many, it may be the ice-breaker.
Information below was taken from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website:
On Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) unveiled a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States. Since its dedication, The Wall That Heals has been displayed at nearly 700 communities throughout the nation, spreading the Memorial’s healing legacy to millions.
Bringing The Wall home to communities throughout our country allows the souls enshrined on the Memorial to exist once more among family and friends in the peace and comfort of familiar surroundings. The traveling exhibit provides thousands of veterans who have been unable to cope with the prospect of facing The Wall to find the strength and courage to do so within their own communities, thus allowing the healing process to begin.
The main components of The Wall That Heals are The Wall replica and the mobile Education Center.
The Wall That Heals exhibit features a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The replica is 375 feet in length and stands 7.5 feet high at its tallest point. Visitors experience The Wall rising above them as they walk towards the apex, a key feature of the design of The Wall in D.C.
Like the original Memorial, The Wall That Heals is erected in a chevron-shape and visitors can do name rubbings of individual service member’s names on The Wall. The replica is constructed of Avonite, a synthetic granite, and its 140 numbered panels are supported by an aluminum frame. Machine engraving of the more than 58,000 names along with modern LED lighting provide readability of The Wall day and night.
As on The Wall, the names on The Wall That Heals are listed by day of casualty. Beginning at the center/apex, the names start on the East Wall (right-hand side) working their way out to the end of that wing, picking up again at the far end of the West Wall (left-hand side) and working their way back in to the center/apex, joining the beginning and end of the conflict at the center.
Ron Squires, 74, volunteered to help when a replica of Washington, D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial was displayed in Clinton Township last week.
The St. Clair Shores veteran felt drawn to visit again when the Wall that Heals came to Riverview, where it can be viewed until 2 p.m. Sunday at Young Patriots Park.
“I have 72 friends on that wall,” he said. “I’m totally drawn to this every time it’s in town, or around town. I have to make at least one visit.”
Squires brought his wife of 52 years, Mary Squires, whom he married two months before he was drafted in November 1968. Together they have four daughters, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Only the first child would would have been born if Squires hadn’t survived a grenade attack on Valentine’s Day 1970, Mary noted.
“All of the guys that were will him died,” Mary said. “He was the guy who was closest to the grenade who lived.”
The memorial that travels the country is a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that stands in Washington, D.C., in honor and recognition of the men and women who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam war.
The names of 58,000 men and women are inscribed on a wall of black granite.
Julianna Blaylock, an outreach manager with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund who travels across the country with the display, said “thousands” of people have visited since The wall was escorted to Young Patriots Park with a cadre of police motorcycles and other fanfare on Tuesday.
“We’ve seen thousands of visitors, especially at night” said Julianna Blaylock, an outreach manager with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund who travels across the country with the display. “It’s really beautiful when it’s lit up,” Blaylock said.
Joe Conrad, 80, of Flat Rock, visited the wall with his wife, Pat Conrad, 73. His daughter, Deborah, and son-in-law, Richard Ernest, both 51, also came along.
Conrad, who served in Vietnam in 1966 as a radio operator, said it was “emotional” to see the wall.
“There was 6,000 killed in 1966,” Conrad said, as his voiced cracked. “I get very emotional looking at all that. It’s a lot to take in.”
Ernest, his son-in-law, served 25 years in the military, and said viewing the wall was also emotional for him. The Brownstown resident is an Iraq combat veteran.
Asked about the Taliban’s sweep across Iraq this week as the U.S. has pulled its forces out of the country, Ernest said the situation there is similar to what happened in Vietnam–another protracted conflict that did not end in victory for America.
“We spent 20 years over there (in Vietnam) and look what happened. Lots of people lost their lives, and it all went right back to where it was,” Ernest said.
“Another week (in Iraq) and the Taliban will have taken over the whole country,” he said. “We made life better for a little while, but it will be right back to where it was.”
The original article was published in The Detroit News on August 15, 2021
Here is the remaining 2021 schedule for the traveling war. Make it a point to visit if you can.
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