Wall That Heals In Harrisonburg This Week
Harrisonburg, VA – The guns fell silent for American troops in August 1973, when the U.S. ended its involvement in the Vietnam War. American soldiers and airmen fought valiantly, but the U.S. government never fully prosecuted the war, resulting in a protracted, grisly war of attrition. 58,272 U.S. service members died in action during the Vietnam War. A heart-wrenching memorial was dedicated to those service members in November 1982 in Washington D.C. The memorial, known simply as The Wall,” includes two, triangular, 250-foot black granite walls inscribed with the names of all soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen killed during the war.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the group responsible for construction of The Wall, unveiled a traveling, half-scale replica of the memorial in 1996. The traveling exhibit, known as The Wall That Heals, will be at the Simms Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia on April 19-21.
The exhibition has three main components: the wall replica, a traveling museum and an information center.
The Wall replica is approximately 250 feet in length, and like the original Memorial is erected in a chevron-shape and includes the names of those killed or missing in action from the conflict. The names are listed chronologically by day of casualty. Beginning at the center, the names start on the East Wall working their way out to the end of that wing, picking up again at the far end of the West Wall and working their way back in to the center. Thus, the beginning and ending of the conflict are joined at the center.
The Traveling Museum includes display cases with photos of service members whose names are found on The Wall and letters left at the Memorial as remembrances. The cases also feature memorabilia, which tells the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the era surrounding the conflict. Computers are available to locate names on The Wall. A map of Vietnam and a chronological overview of the conflict helps many visitors, particularly students, to put American experiences in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context.
In the information center, visitors can find names, either in a directory, or by asking one of the volunteers. A variety of other useful materials, such as a book about MIAs, is also available to assist visitors in their search.
The Wall That Heals will be at the Simms Center, at 620 Simms Avenue, in Harrisonburg, Virginia on April 19-21. The exhibit will be lit at night and visitors are welcome 24 hours a day. The Harrisonburg Rockingham Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the visit.