Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Wall That Heals

Thursday, I was honored to be invited as a guest speaker for the opening ceremony of the Wall That Heals Vietnam Veterans Memorial exhibit at Ipswich River Park in North Reading. The Wall That Heals, a three-fourths scale replica of The Wall in Washington, is a mobile memorial created and supported by the same non-profit organization, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund that originated the D.C. memorial.

The experience of being near the 375 foot long Wall That Heals, with more than 58,000 names of missing and killed service members, is humbling. Although it is mobile, it is constructed in a chevron like the original, with 140 numbered and engraved panels so that visitors can do name rubbings, and the feelings it inspires are as powerful as caused by any memorial.

The Veterans, Parks and Recreation Department of North Reading, Massachusetts has succeeded in arranging for the Wall to return here once again – it will only be seen in 3 places in New England this year. In order to support North Reading’s efforts to display the Wall That Heals, I authored legislation supported by Representative Brad Jones and signed into law by Governor Baker, which directed $10,000 to defer expenses for the memorial’s display in North Reading.

When offloaded, the trailer that carries The Wall That Heals becomes an education center with a timeline, maps, photographs and information about the Vietnam War and the Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. Everyone who visits leaves with a deeper understanding of the sacrifices that these men and women made and the due respect that all of our veterans deserve.

To Susan Magner, Director of Veterans Services for North Reading, the Veterans, Parks and Recreation Department, the many volunteers who labored to offload, erect, stand watch over, and pack the Wall, and to our veterans I say, thank you.