CRIVITZ, Wis. (WFRV) – A traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. has returned to Crivitz for the second time.
It’s called ‘The Wall That Heals’ and engraved into it are the names of all 58,281 service members who died during the Vietnam War. The replica is 375 feet in length and 7.5 feet high.
On Tuesday afternoon, it was at Vandervest Harley-Davidson inside a semi-tractor trailer. Several hundred motorcycle riders escorted the semi-tractor trailer with the wall inside to Crivitz this afternoon.
‘The Wall That Heals’ has been to about 700 communities since its inception in 1996. Crivitz is one of the stops on its tour this summer.
“I appreciate everybody doing this now for the Vietnam veterans because we’re slowly leaving this earth and it does my heart good to see those who were fighting in the jungles being honored now,” said Vietnam War veteran Kurt Carlson who took part in the ride.
Carlson said that he was in the military for about 20 years and served all over the world. One of his jobs included evacuating Vietnamese refugees out of the country after the war ended.
Vietnam Veteran Memorial Fund officials, who organize the wall’s stops, said that it has multiple purposes.
The first is to provide veterans an opportunity to heal. According to its website, the wall ‘provides thousands of veterans who have been unable to cope with the prospect of facing The Wall to find the strength and courage to do so within their own communities, thus allowing the healing process to begin.’
“People can come up to that wall and search for names of loved ones or somebody that they knew and that’s very important, it gives them a chance to heal,” said Vietnam era veteran Robert Coad. He said he was in the Navy from 1972 until 1976.
Public education is another major goal for ‘The Wall That Heals.’ The final goal is a belated thank you of sorts.
The Vietnam War wasn’t popular among the American public and there were no parades or other celebrations for veterans when they returned home. In fact, in many cases veterans were scorned.
“When I came home from Southeast Asia I can remember a mother grabbing her child and pulling her away from me,” said Carlson. “People looked at us in the military as pariahs.”
“When you see a Vietnam veteran, even better than thanking him is to welcome him home,” said Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site manager Susan Faas.
As the Vietnam veterans rolled into Crivitz on their motorcycles, this time they received a warm welcome. Families lined the streets waving American flags and there was even a band there playing patriotic tunes.
The belated thank you they didn’t get all those years ago.
‘The Wall That Heals’ will stay in Crivitz until Sunday. For a full list of all of its stops this summer and fall, click here.
“58,281 names are on the wall, and each one of them has a story, and each one of them are my hero,” said Faas.