Visit ‘Wall’ replica this week to say thanks

I recall learning in my high school social studies class in the early 1980s about the wall that was being built in Washington, D.C., to honor those who perished during their service in the Vietnam War.

I still can clearly remember my teacher telling us that the wall would be the largest memorial in Washington and the only one that could be described as “underground.”

“It will have the name of every person who died or is missing,” she told us.

‘So many names,’ I remember thinking and wondering how in the world that would ever be possible.

Of course the Vietnam Veterans Memorial came to fruition Nov. 10, 1982, officially dedicated one day before Veterans Day. Initially it bore the names of 57,939 names, and since then, 379 names have been added, for a total of 58,318.

I remember reading about it in the newspaper and wishing I could make the trip to see it.

It took a while for me to finally get there, but eventually I’ve made the trip to Washington and visited this beautiful, amazing memorial two or three times since high school.

Each time I am awestruck at the size and the vast sea of names. Each time I’ve encountered friends or family members in a state of somber remembrance honoring those who died in service to their country.

It’s a feeling of reverence that really can only be felt, yet not described in words.

So many Americans would like to pay the same level of homage, but for a variety of reasons, sadly, many simply cannot make the long trip to our nation’s capitol.

That’s why it is such a blessing that this week the wall will come here to Warren, bearing all 58,318 names, albeit in a smaller, mobile format. This 375-foot replica will officially open to the public Thursday on the south lawn of Packard Music Hall in Warren. Amazingly, this visit to Warren by the Wall that Heals is one of only 38 this year nationwide. This will be the only stop in Ohio.

The planning and coordinating that went into this event by a small group of people — many military veterans themselves — is no less than amazing, all so those in Warren, Trumbull County, and really those from all over Ohio, may make the drive here to experience the beauty and meaning.

Of the 58,318 names engraved on “The Wall That Heals,” 60 are local men.

The wall will be open and remain available for visits around the clock until it departs next Sunday. While it remains here, volunteers will stand by 24-7, giving of their time just to help direct visitors and answer questions, and because they understand and want to give back for the ultimate sacrifice these Americans gave for their country.

Several ceremonies are planned while the wall is here, including the opening ceremony and welcome home at 11 a.m. Thursday.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, a salute called the “Women of the Wall” will be held to recognize the eight women on the wall.

A laying of the roses, part of the closing ceremony, is set for noon next Sunday. This event allows families of the local men killed in the war to lay a rose at the base of the wall where the person’s name is located when the name is called. It is intended to give friends and family yet another chance to say farewell.

On Tuesday, the Tribune Chronicle will publish a 28-page special section, outlining the biographies of the 60 local men and outlining the details of all the special events and ceremonies planned for the upcoming week in conjunction to the wall’s arrival.

Whether you had a friend, loved one or acquaintance who served or perished in the Vietnam War, please take time this week to visit the Wall that Heals to pay respects and to sincerely honor those who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice.

It should be our honor and privilege to take the time to say thank you.