Replica of Vietnam War Memorial traveling through West Jeff

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A 53-foot tractor trailer, clad with a photo of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a timeline of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, is carrying a three-quarter replica of the wall and a mobile education center to 28 towns across the United States. On May 26, the tractor trailer will be escorted through West Jefferson on Route 40 on its way to its Columbus tour stop at the National Veterans Memorial & Museum. Area residents are invited to line Route 40 in West Jefferson as a show of respect.

(Posted May 18, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The Madison County community has an opportunity to pay respects and show support as The Wall That Heals travels through West Jefferson on its way to the National Veterans Memorial & Museum in Columbus.

The Wall That Heals is a three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and a mobile education center. Each year since 1996, the exhibit has gone on tour across the country. This year, three of the 28 tour stops are in Ohio.

On May 26, a 53-foot tractor trailer carrying the wall will proceed east through West Jefferson on Main Street (Route 40), escorted by the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, West Jefferson Police Department, and others. American Legion Post 201 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7005, both from West Jefferson, will post color guards at the village limits on the east and west ends of Route 40.

The Wall That Heals will be open to visitors around the clock at its Columbus stop from May 28 through 2 p.m. May 31. Organizers say the exhibit is especially moving at night. Admission is free at all tour stops.

West Jefferson Mayor Ray Martin asks area residents to line Route 40 through town at 1:40 p.m. The caravan is expected to start at 2 p.m.

“It’s a way to show support for the service and all that (Vietnam veterans) do for us. A lot of guys sacrificed their lives for freedom and the things we believe in,” Martin said.

A caravan escort is arranged for nearly every stop on the tour. It’s a way to bring the display into each town with respect and honor, said Cynthia Long, program manager with The Wall That Heals.

“Vietnam veterans were never welcomed home. This is a way to honor their service and to thank them,” she said. “People lining the streets as the trailer comes through–it’s moving to the bikers, many of whom are veterans. It gives them a great feeling of support and a welcome home.”

Those who line the street in West Jefferson on May 26 can expect to see a tractor trailer wrapped on both sides–one side featuring a photo of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and the other side featuring a timeline of the United States’ involvement in Vietnam from the 1950s through the construction of the memorial in 1982.

Once the caravan makes its way through West Jefferson, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office will lead the escort on into Columbus. On May 27, volunteers will set up the exhibit at the National Veterans Memorial & Museum, where it will be open to visitors around the clock starting May 28 and ending at 2 p.m. May 31.

Admission is free at all tour stops. There may be a small parking fee at the Columbus stop. Visitors are welcome day or night. Volunteers man the display at all hours.

Visitors to the The Wall That Heals are welcome to make rubbings of individual service members’ names, just as visitors do at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

The replica measures 375 feet long and 7.5 feet high at its tallest point. Made of synthetic granite, 144 panels are supported by an aluminum frame, and LED lights shine from above. The display honors the more than 3 million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Services in the Vietnam War and bears the names of the 58,279 service men and women who died in Vietnam.

The names appear on the replica in order of the date of the casualty and alphabetically for each day. Visitors are welcome to make rubbings of individual service members’ names on the wall, just as visitors do at the memorial in Washington D.C.

Once the wall components are unloaded and set up, the tractor-trailer itself becomes an education center, telling the story of the war, the wall, and that time in American history. The trailer’s sides pull up to show photos, videos, memorabilia, a map, and a chronological overview of the war.

The Wall That Heals is a program of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), the non-profit organization that built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C. USAA is the program sponsor.

In addition to the wall replica, The Wall That Heals exhibit includes a mobile education center with photos, videos, memorabilia, and a map.

VVMF partners with the Truckload Carriers Association, the trucking industry, and Blue Beacon for the exhibit’s transport. Hosts in each community provide the location, volunteers, and preparations necessary to replicate the experience a visitor would have at the memorial in D.C.

Since its debut in 1996, The Wall That Heals has been on display in nearly 700 U.S. communities, as well as stops in Ireland in 1999 and Canada in 2005.

The 26th season of the tour started on April 8 in New Bern, N.C., and will end on Nov. 11 in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The Ohio stops are as follows:

  • Columbus–National Veterans Memorial & Museum, 300 W. Broad St., May 28 through 2 p.m. May 31;
  • Harrison–JTM Food Group, 110 Industrial Ave., June 10 through 2 p.m. June 13; and
  • Athens–Tailgreat Park across from the Ohio University Convocation Center, 95 Richland Ave., evening of July 28 through noon Aug. 1.

For the full 2021 schedule and more details, visit www.thewallthatheals.org.

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