Washington, DC – Each year, millions visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which honors the millions who served their country during the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands gave their lives during the many years of conflict and their names are etched into the black granite.
But millions of Americans, young and old, have not been able to visit what has become known to many as The Wall. Some haven’t been able to make the journey to our nation’s capital and many others may find the war’s legacy easier to confront while at home in their own communities.
Every year on designated holidays, the nation pauses to remember those who gave their lives in service with ceremonies and parades, but that honor and respect must extend further. One way to honor the fallen and reflect on the service of the millions of Americans who came before is to visit The Wall That Heals. This exhibition features a 250-foot replica of the original memorial in Washington, D.C. and travels across America.The exhibit arrived in Missoula on Aug. 14 and will be open to the public through Monday morning, Aug. 20. The visit is hosted by the University of Montana and American Legion Post 101. The entire exhibit, including the Wall will be located on the University of Montana campus in the park near the Adams Center with an opening ceremony on Aug. 17 which will feature state attorney general, Steve Bullock as a guest speaker. A reading of all Missoula area soldiers killed in Vietnam as well as current wars will also take place at the opening ceremony. “The Wall That Heals transcends the Vietnam War to help our great nation renew its relationship with veterans of all wars,” said Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of VVMF. “It helps veterans from all of America’s conflicts to find healing and a powerful connection through their common military experiences.” The Wall That Heals tour sites also serve as collection points in VVMF’s Call For Photos campaign. Our goal is to collect a photo for each of the names etched on The Wall in D.C. Of the 266 Montanans on The Wall, 112 photos have been collected so far.
This year the Department of Defense and our nation are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the war in Vietnam. The legacy of the long and costly conflicts lives on though the veterans who came home and the families of those who did not. Our society cannot forget those great sacrifices or the values those veterans exemplified through their service and heroism.
Millions of Americans answered their national call for service in Vietnam just as they are today in operations worldwide. Among service members, a common thread of service bonds them no matter their era of service, branch or rank. Military families also feel camaraderie of mutual sacrifice. The connection, however, is so often lost among the members of the general public who may never have had any direct experience with the military.
Since its inception in 1996, more than 2 million people have visited VVMF’s traveling exhibit. It has made stops in nearly 250 U.S. locales in addition to an April 1999 tour of the Four Provinces of Ireland and a visit to Canada in 2005.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the more than 3 million Americans who served with the U.S. Armed Forces in the Vietnam War. It is the most visited memorial in Washington, D.C., with more than 4 million visitors each year. Its black granite walls bear the names of the more than 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
The Wall That Heals is open 24 hours a day beginning Aug. 16. There is no charge for admission. For more information go to http://www.vvmf.org/missoulaMT.
VVMF coordinates local stops of The Wall That Heals and the accompanying museum and the tour is sponsored by Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Charitable Trust, Federal Express, Geico, New Century Transportation, AON and TimeWarner.
About VVMF and the Education Center at the Wall
The Education Center at The Wall is a place on our National Mall where our military heroes’ stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten. With a groundbreaking planned for November 2012, the Center is a multi-million dollar, state-of- the-art visitor’s center and learning facility to be built on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans and Lincoln Memorials. Visitors will better understand the profound impact the Vietnam War had on their friends and family members, their hometowns and the nation. The Center will feature the faces and stories of the 58,282 men and women on The Wall, honoring those who fell in Vietnam, those who fought and returned, as well as the friends and families of all who served.
Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., promoting healing and educating about the impact of the Vietnam War.
Support the Education Center at The Wall by visiting www.buildthecenter.org, calling 866-990-WALL.