BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Wall That Heals will arrive Wednesday morning, March 22, after being escorted by a band of motorcyclists from Waldron to Mena. The Wall is expected to come into town around 11 a.m. on Highway 71. Citizens are encouraged to line the streets with flags and wave them in honor of the names of Vietnam Veterans that line the monument.
The route of travel will be Highway 71 to South Mena Street to Dallas Avenue to South Morrow, and reach its destination at Bearcat Stadium where it will remain for the next five days. Organizers asked that you bring a flag if you have one, if not, there will be flags available throughout the route. One volunteer, Shannon Clifford, is offering free patriotic face painting to kids starting at 10 a.m. on the corner of South Mena Street and Dallas Avenue.
Linda Johnson, head organizer of the event, said although The Wall will be set up on Wednesday morning and available for viewing, the opening ceremony will be held on Thursday, March 23, at 10 a.m. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. Light refreshments will be served.
The Wall That Heals will be available for viewing anytime, day or night, until Sunday, March 26, at 3:30 p.m. There will also be an Education Center on site. The exterior sides of the trailer that carries The Wall That Heals open to become a mobile Education Center. Information cases display photos of service members whose names are found on The Wall, along with letters and memorabilia left at The Wall in D.C. The Museum also includes a map of Vietnam and a chronological overview of the conflict in Vietnam. The exhibits tell the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the era surrounding the conflict, and are designed to put American experiences in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context.
Johnson said the Education Center will include a television screen that shows veterans from Polk County and surrounding counties that were killed in Vietnam.
For school groups, church groups, or any other kind of organizations, special speakers are provided that give an oral history of their experiences in Vietnam. To schedule a group session, to volunteer, or for more information, contact Linda Johnson at 956-241-2633.
For those that haven’t served, volunteer Sandy Davis said, “It should bring thankfulness in realizing what the United States has done to keep us the free country we are and how important it is to keep it that way. If they hadn’t fought for this country, it would not be free, and they died to keep it that way. The Vietnam Vets were scoffed at when they came home where as now, the ones coming home are honored. It’s time to honor Vietnam veterans and that’s what this does.”