Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall arrives in Wilmington

Updated: Jul. 25, 2019 at 1:19 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall is in Wilmington this week.

The wall, an exact replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., has been set up in the Mayfair Parking Lot off of Military Cutoff Road.

You can view the wall starting Thursday, July 25, at 9 a.m. It will leave the area Monday, July 29. The opening ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, July 26.

This wall stands as a reminder of the sacrifices made during the Vietnam War, commemorating the more than 58,000 lives lost.

“That wall represents our brothers and sisters who fell. Who never made it back home," said Curt Farrison, a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and president of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 85. “If it were not their names on the wall and us out here welcoming them, it would be my name and they would be welcoming me. It is our brother and sisterhood who did not make it, it is the grail, the Holy Grail of the Vietnam veterans. We regard that wall as the absolute highest memoir of the Vietnam War.”

Organizers originally planned to bring the wall to Wilmington in 2018, but were delayed due to Hurricane Florence.

Gary Anderson, a Navy Vietnam veteran and the co-founder of the American Honor Guard of North Carolina, worked to bring the wall to Oak Island in 2015.

He said it was important to bring the wall to Wilmington in order to give more veterans closure.

“It gives us closure from being in Vietnam and the way we were treated when we came back. So as a veteran meets another Vietnam veteran, it’s not only thank you for your service but it’s welcome home and this wall is welcome home for them,” Anderson said.

Both Anderson and Farrison hope veterans and community members will take time to visit the wall over the next few days.

“The community then gets to share not the emotion, but the philosophy of what a wall that contains the entire loss of life of the Vietnam War. They get to share, they get to see it. We get to deal with the emotional aspects of it and we’re fully prepared to do that. You’re going to see a lot of tears, you’re going to see a tremendous amount of emotion that will be released just looking at and touching this wall,” Farrison said.

“When we had it in 2015, it was on a baseball field and I would go at 3 o’clock in the morning when it was lit up and just sit in the grass and try to think about some of the things that I went through when I was off of Vietnam,” said Anderson. “It’s a peaceful calming feeling going over and touching the wall, and feeling the names, I do have one high school buddy who is on the wall, from California and I looked his name up. And that’s the closure they get.”

The traveling memorial wall is part of the Vietnam and All Veterans Brevard, a grass roots, community-based organization.

It is free and open to the public.

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