The Wall that Heals, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be on display in Lincolnton, Ga. through Sunday.
It’s been more than half a century since the Vietnam War, but for many, the pain is still fresh.
“My brother was coming home in seven weeks,” said Beverly Shaw, who attended the opening of the Wall that Heals in Lincolnton.
She is still mourning for her big brother. His name is inscribed on the wall, alongside more than 58,000 others who lost their lives or didn’t return home after the war. For others, visiting The Wall that Heals is a chance to relive old memories. Dan Jones says he narrowly missed being on the wall next to some of his brothers in arms.
“I had left to go to Japan for R&R,” he said. “The unit was deployed right outside of our base camp, and the entire platoon got overran by Viet Cong, and a great num ber of the people died in that conflict.”
He says when he came home, he wasn’t given a hero’s welcome.
“I joined police department,” Jones said. “I had some duties where I had to deal with protestors. You know, the war that I had just fought.”
But in Lincolnton Thursday night, thousands came out to the grand opening of the Vietnam veterans memorial for its local stay to pay homage and bear witness to history.
“It’s a small town,” said Tim Tetz, who is the director of outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. “It allows us to bring the memorial to people that might not otherwise have a chance to come see it in Washington D.C. Maybe they can’t physically, emotionally, or financially make it there, and this might be the only chance that they get to see that.”
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, and its traveling replica, were built by and are maintained through a non-profit.
The replica is 375 feet long. It begins and ends in the middle, starting in 1959 and ending in 1975.
“It is beautiful that there are people who will make every effort to show people the history of our nation,” Shaw said.
The wall, and its counterpart in Washington, are solid reminders of the thousands who paid the ultimate price in the Vietnam War.
“It is true,” Shaw said. “Freedom is not free.”
The Wall that Heals will be at the Curry Colvin Recreational Complex 24 hours a day through Sunday.