Replica Of Vietnam Memorial Wall Coming To Western Massachusetts
A traveling educational exhibit about the Vietnam War that includes a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C. is making stops in the region this summer.
Vietnam Veterans like Richard Tyrell of Springfield came home to angry anti-war demonstrations and denunciations of their military service.
"You have to remember there was something going on in the country," Tyrell said. " There were people who felt we should not be fighting ( the war). There were people who blamed the men and women fighting it."
It’s taken almost 50 years, but people’s perspectives have changed about the nearly 3 million men and women who served in the military during the Vietnam War.
" It was a very disruptive time in the country, but things like " The Wall That Heals" help us grow through that," said Tyrell.
“The Wall That Heals” is a half-scale replica of the Washington memorial inscribed with the names of the more than 58,300 people who died or remain missing from the war that ended in 1975. It will be on display from August 18-21 at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield.
Gumersindo Gomez, Massachusetts State Council President of the Vietnam Veterans of America said the traveling exhibit helps preserve the legacy of the Vietnam War Memorial and educate people about the service and sacrifice of the veterans.
" There are 390 of us dying daily in the nation. So, it is now that we need to honor our Vietnam Veterans," said Gomez.
The exhibit, which includes an education center from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, will be open to the public 24 hours-a-day from 8 a.m. on Aug. 18th until a closing ceremony at 3 p.m. on Aug. 21.
There are several ceremonies and events scheduled during the four-day exhibit including a commemoration by members of the local Vietnamese community, a salute to women who served in Vietnam, and a candlelight vigil that will include the reading of the names of the dead and missing from Massachusetts.
A schedule of events is at the website: www.thewallthathealswestspringfield.com
Chris Lizotte, director of Veterans Services for West Springfield, said a volunteer committee spent months planning to host the touring exhibit and is anticipating a large turnout.
" We heal by maximizing the attendance for viewing at the Wall That Heals," he said.
Lizzotte said West Springfield would not have been picked as a location to display the memorial replica if not for the space and parking available at the Big E’s fairgrounds. ESE president and CEO Gene Cassidy said it is an honor to host the exhibit during the Big E’s centennial year.
" I can't think of a more important exhibit that the Eastern States has ever been engaged in helping to produce than this one," said Cassidy.
The city of Albany will host the traveling Vietnam Memorial wall in Washington Park from Sept. 15-19.
Since the debut of the memorial replica on Veterans Day 1996, it has been displayed at nearly 400 places in the United States and toured Ireland and Canada.