Two years ago, the official Vietnam Traveling Wall, “The Wall That Heals”, came to Ft. Carson, CO. It is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC. Though I have not seen the Wall in Washington, the traveling version is as powerful and moving.
The three parts which make up the traveling display are the Wall replica, the traveling museum, and the information center.
Most poignant are the mementoes left by family members and friends …
this framed cross-stitch was left by a mom for her son
Each memento is collected and saved into the traveling museum. In the museum, you’ll find letters, drawings, dried flowers, photos, and other items that were left. Also, the museum includes photos of those who died during the war, putting a face and short biography to a name on the Wall. While many of the faces are young, there are many faces of older, career military servicemembers. The information center, which travels with the Wall, has the name of each servicemember who was killed in the war. The center allows a family member or friend to find the exact location of each name listed on the Wall. The docents that travel along help find a name in their books and on the Wall, in addition to providing information about the Wall.
For more information on the official Vietnam Traveling Wall, please read here.
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My dad served in Vietnam, near the end of his military career, in 1967-68. He doesn’t talk much about those experiences. Like many, it is not his sense to talk about, or share, them. When he does talk about those experiences, it’s time to listen. When the traveling wall came to Ft. Carson, it was an opportunity to see. Also, I brought along my daughters, Deborah and Elizabeth, to give them the opportunity to experience it. For my girls, it was a very powerful and emotional experience, bringing to life history outside the filter of media and analysis.
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There are several other groups that have replicas of the Vietnam Memorial Wall, which include the following:
Regardless of which group’s traveling replica that is seen, take the opportunity to see if they travel to your town or city.