The Wall That Heals arrived in Eastland Texas Wednesday morning just before noon, welcomed with a line of American flags and Vietnam Veterans.
The Wall That Heals is a 3/4 scale replica of the original Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC. The truck serves as an education center displaying “Hometown Heroes”, pictures of those from the area who are listed on the wall. The center also has memorabilia and information about the Vietnam War. The exhibit will travel around the country this year stopping at 38 cities. Eastland was fortunate to be selected as one of those stopping points. The combined efforts of the Eastland County Museum, City of Eastland, and Farmers & Merchants Bank brought the exhibit to Eastland.
Once the truck arrived Wednesday, volunteers were expected to set up the exhibit. This included the assembly of the 375-foot long wall that stands some 7 1/2 foot tall at the center. Members of the Eastland High School football team along with their coaches stepped up to the challenge. Laying out the framework, then inserting the panels that hold over 58,000 names of service members who were killed during the Vietnam War from 1956 until 1975. The last part of the assembly was installing the LED light fixtures that line the wall and create the incredible view after dark. Atmos Energy employees served lunch to the assembly team before they began construction. E.T. Bradley presented each volunteer with an iron medallion made by EBAA Iron as a memento of the exhibit’s visit. The volunteers will be back on Sunday afternoon when it will be time to disassemble the wall, pack it up and get it on its way to the next stop.
An Honor Ceremony was held Thursday night with guest speaker Colonel Jerry “Kenny” Weldon II, USAF (Retired). The ceremony was opened and concluded with music by Larry and Cyndie Mace. Eastland High School teacher and coach Bobby Blackwell emceed the event. The invocation was given by veteran Terry Trout. The Seibert Singers performed God Bless America ending with the waving of American Flags. Laci Hayes sang a moving rendition of the National Anthem. Colors were presented by VFW Post 4136 and assisted by Boy Scout Troop 103 with veteran Gerald Cozart leading in the pledge. Veteran Larry Monroe read off the names of the six men from Eastland County that are on the wall, Larry Joe Rodgers of Ranger, Everett W (Bubba) Everett of Olden, James K Gray of Carbon, Willie Donald Tyrone of Carbon, Joseph A Venable of Cisco, and Jerald D Wallace of Cisco. Monroe gave recognition to Gold Star families and introduced Mrs. Rodgers, the mother of Larry Joe Rodgers. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund outreach director, Tim Tetz told about the wall and the impact it has on those who visit. He is a wealth of information and holds a treasure trove of heartwarming and heart-wrenching stories about those who have visited the wall and many of the men on the wall. Big Country One Flight of Abilene performed the missing man formation flyover.
Paper and pencils are available to do rubbings of names on The Wall That Heals. Please do not use crayons or other writing tools to do rubbings. If you want a rubbing from the original Wall in Washington DC, forms are available to fill out and make that request. It is a service that is offered by the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Fund (VVMF) free of charge.
The Wall That Heals will be open 24 hours a day until noon on Sunday, April 15th. Each night at 10 p.m. Eastland High School band member Bryson Lear will perform “Taps” in front of the wall.
“Taps” performed by Bryson Lear April 12, 2018
VVMF Operations Director, Tim Tetz speaks to Eastland High School football players after they assembled the wall.
Featured Photo by Terry Simmons