This year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.
Hawaiian Gardens, to honor the somber occasion, will exhibit a three-quarter scale replica of Washington, D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dubbed “The Wall That Heals,” at Fedde Middle School.
The traveling exhibit is put in on by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that works to preserve the war’s history. The replica memorial was originally debuted in 1996, and has been on display in more than 700 cities across the U.S. since, according to Monday, March 20 news release.
“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is pleased to bring “The Wall That Heals” mobile exhibit to Hawaiian Gardens to allow local veterans and their family members a chance to experience The Wall,” said VVMF president and CEO Jim Knotts in the announcement. “Hosting (the memorial) provides an opportunity to honor and remember all those who served and sacrificed in the Vietnam War and educate visitors on the continuing impact of the Vietnam War on America.
Veterans and family members alike gathered at the replica memorial on Thursday, March 23, to remember their fallen friends and loved ones during the first day of the exhibit.
U.S. Army veteran Bill Ward, a Long Beach resident, came to pay respects to his two friends — Arthur W. Glover and Donald R. Taylor — who were killed by a landmine during the Vietnam War. The day Glover and Taylor died, Ward said, they’d gone to a baseball game while he went to USO facility to listen to a new Johnny Cash record.
“When I came back,” Glover said, “They said the (Viet Cong) had wired a landmine underneath the bleachers to a telephone — so they were sitting right on top of the landmine when it blew up, and they both went together.”
The replica is 375 feet long and stands seven and half feet tall at its highest point, the announcement said. It bears the names of 58,281 American soldiers who died throughout the near 20-year long conflict.
The exhibit will also include a mobile education center, the announcement said, which will provide historical information about the Vietnam War.
The memorial and educational center, located at 21409 Elaine Ave., will be open to the public 24 hours a day for free. The event runs from Thursday, March 23 until Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m.
More information is available on the VVMF’s website.