The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall  Makes Its Way to Our Region 

By Paula Green 

 You don’t attack the grunts of Vietnam; you blame the theory behind the war. Nobody who fought in that war was at fault. It was the war itself that was at fault.                                                                                                                  James Hillman 

          The Vietnam War was a long, costly armed conflict that pitted the communist regime of North Vietnam and its southern allies, known as the Viet Cong, against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. In March 1965, President Lyndon Johnson sent the first combat troops to South Vietnam in response to a Viet Cong attack on the U.S. air base in Pleiku. The war ended with the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973 and the unification of Vietnam under Communist control two years later. More than 3 million people were killed in the conflict including over 58,000 Americans. 

        Most of the Americans who perished were young; in fact, 61 percent of them were age 21 or younger. To commemorate those who were killed in the Vietnam War, a memorial was erected in their honor in Washington, D.C. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was founded by Jan Scruggs, who served in Vietnam (in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade) from 1969-1970 as an infantry corporal. He wanted the memorial to acknowledge and recognize the service and sacrifice of all who served in Vietnam. 

       On March 11, 1982, the design and plans received final federal approval, and work at the site began on March 16, 1982. The Memorial Wall was completed in late October and dedicated on Nov. 13, 1982. 

        Recently, a smaller version of the wall made its way to our area.  The Township of Hampton and the American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT) showcased The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall. The moving tribute was on display from June 29 through July 4 in Hampton Township Community Park on McCully Road. 

       “The Traveling Wall” is 80 percent of the size of the one in Washington, D.C. It stands as a reminder of the great sacrifices made during the Vietnam War. It was made to help heal and rekindle friendships and to allow people the opportunity to visit loved ones whose names are on the wall in their home town and who otherwise may not be able to make the trip to Washington.  

        Over the week’s span, hundreds of people made their way to Hampton to view the poignant tribute. A POW / MIA table was set for those still missing; a bell was on display and if you found your loved one’s name on the wall, you could ring it in their honor. Volunteers were available to help folks locate specific names on the wall. The wall contains 58,272 names, of which 1,200 of these names are listed as missing (MIA’s, POW’s and others). It also displays the names of eight women. 

        If you didn’t get a chance to see it in June/July in Hampton, then you’ll have another opportunity to view it this month. AVTT is bringing “The Wall” back to the region; it will be in Butler Township, Aug. 23-27. For more information, visit www.americanveteranstravelingtribute.com. 

 Sources: http://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war, http://thewall-usa.com/information.asp, 

www.americanveteranstravelingtribute.com. 

 

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