This year the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., celebrates 30 years since its dedication in 1982.
It’s an inspiring installation that’s viewed by millions every year. But not every family can find the time and money for a trip to our nation’s capital.
That’s why traveling replicas of the Vietnam Memorial have become so important. Nearly as old as the memorial itself, these replicas represent a powerful way for people in all corners of the country to pay tribute to those courageous men and women who gave their all and to educate the next generation about the sacrifices made by military members who have gone before us.
I first encountered a traveling wall when I was 16 years old. I had some notion of what the Vietnam War was like through film, but I possessed a childish understanding of the sacrifices made. When I encountered the replica and saw the thousands of names spread across wall, I was moved by the enormity of it all. My appreciation grew for these men and women.
Vietnam veteran John Devitt experienced the power of the memorial when it opened in 1982, and he desired to share the strength of the Vietnam Memorial to everyone who is not able to visit Washington. With the help of other veterans John founded Vietnam Combat Veterans, Ltd., and constructed the The Moving Wall, the first traveling wall, which was unveiled in Tyler, Texas, in 1984. Two half-scale traveling memorials currently tour the country.
John Devitt’s wall is not the only moving memorial. Other organizations have built traveling Vietnam Memorials. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund unveiled The Wall That Heals on Veterans Day 1996 with the express purpose of allowing hurting veterans to heal war wounds in the loving and familiar environment of their hometowns. The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall is a 3/5 scale replica of the monument in Washington and is 300 feet long. The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall is a 3/4 size monument and has traveled to more than 200 cities.
There are multiple traveling Vietnam Memorial replicas touring the country. Listed below are the upcoming tour dates for several of the walls. A full schedule and details can be found at each traveling wall’s website.
Photo courtesy of Bernt Rostad and craighwk