Replica of Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be on display

A half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., currently on a national tour, will be on display Thursday through April 6 in Bemidji.

A half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., currently on a national tour, will be on display Thursday through April 6 in Bemidji.

"The Wall That Heals," at nearly 250 feet in length, replicates the original monument, also called "The Wall," commissioned by Congress in 1979 to be constructed in Washington, D.C., just northeast of the Lincoln Memorial.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has inscribed on its black granite walls the names of more than 58,000 U.S. servicemen and women who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

The replica arrives in Bemidji about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to the Lake Bemidji waterfront, escorted by law enforcement and Legion riders from Deer River Legion Post 122. The memorial was exhibited last week at Ironworld in Chisholm.

Arriving in a 53-foot, fifth-wheel trailer with cases built into its sides, "The Wall That Heals" will be set up Wednesday by students and staff from the Northwestern Minnesota Juvenile Center, according to local coordinator Mike Liapis.


The memorial will be on display to the public starting at 8 a.m. Thursday through 8 p.m. April 6. A closing ceremony at 6 p.m. April 6 will be held privately for Vietnam War veterans only.

The memorial will be located next to the Tourist Information Center at the waterfront, and includes as part of the trailer an information center and traveling museum which displays memorabilia left at The Wall in Washington.

A formal opening ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the waterfront, followed by an open house and welcome to all veterans 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Bemidji American Legion Club. Hosting the visit to Bemidji of "The Wall That Heals" is the American Legion Ralph Gracie Post 14.

"The Wall That Heals" travels across the United States to major cities and small towns, "addressing not only the loss but also the lives of more than 58,000 men and women whose names are inscribed on 'The Wall' -- our parents, children, neighbors and friends," according to material about the exhibit.

The replica memorial "transcends the Vietnam War to help our great nation renew its relationship with veterans of all wars," said Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. "It helps veterans from all of America's conflicts find healing and a powerful connection through their common military experiences."

Since its dedication, "The Wall That Heals" has visited more than 250 cities and towns. In addition to its U.S. tour stops, the exhibition made its first-ever international journey in April 1999 to the four provinces of Ireland, and it has also traveled to Canada.

The original Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the more than 3 million Americans who served with the U.S. armed forces in the Vietnam War. It is the most visited memorial in Washington, with more than 4 million visitors each year.

Each of the aluminum replica's two wings is about 123 feet long and meet at an angle of 121 degrees, rising to a height of about 5 feet at its apex. Each name is laser etched into panels of reflective black, powder-coated heavy aluminum supported by a structural aluminum frame.


The names on "The Wall That Heals" replicate the names on "The Wall" with listing alphabetically by day of casualty. Beginning at the apex, the names start on the East Wall working their way out to the end of that wing, picking up again at the far end of the West Wall and working their way back in to the center.

Thus the beginning and the end of the conflict are joined at the center, signifying an epoch in American history, the material said.

The exhibition is sponsored nationally by the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Trust, Federal Express, Fujitsu Transaction Solutions Inc., Harley-Davidson Foundation and Target Corp.


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