Downriver residents pay solemn tribute

Photo Larry Caruso

Most summertime celebrations are happy, high-energy affairs with food and fun and rides and fireworks, but Aug. 12-15 at Young Patriots Park in Riverview, things were a little different. 

The city, with sponsorship help from Ceaser Capital Management, brought The Wall That Heals to the Downriver area. The Wall is a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Once opened, the exhibit remained open 24 hours a day until its closing ceremonies. People from throughout the Downriver area visited during the four-day stay.

The Vietnam War, which ended in 1975 and at the time was America’s longest war, claimed the lives of more than 58,000 U.S. service men and women. 

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.

The Wall that Heals website says: “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.”

Since its dedication, The Wall That Heals has been displayed at nearly 700 communities throughout the nation.

The 53-foot trailer that carries The Wall That Heals transforms to become a mobile Education Center. The exterior of the trailer features a timeline of “The War and The Wall” and provides additional information about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Additional exhibits give visitors a better understanding of the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the collection of items left at The Wall.