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Vietnam Veterans ‘Wall That Heals’ Exhibit Coming to Hawaiian Gardens

THE SEMI-TRUCK that carries the Wall That Heals Education Center coming to Hawaiian Gardens in March 2023. It is a huge honor for the city; the 2023 exhibit will visit only 32 cities in the United States. 

December 16, 2022

By Brian Hews

A 75-percent replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC will be coming to Hawaiian Gardens and Fedde Middle School March 23-26, 2023.

The Wall That Heals consists of two components; The Wall replica and a mobile Education Center.

On Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) unveiled the replica designed to travel to communities throughout the United States. Since its dedication, The Wall That Heals has been displayed at nearly 700 communities throughout the nation.

“Bringing The Wall home to communities throughout our country allows the souls enshrined on the Memorial to exist once more among family and friends in the peace and comfort of familiar surroundings,” the VVMF said in a statement.

The traveling exhibit provides thousands of veterans who have been unable to cope with the prospect of facing The Wall to find the strength and courage to do so within their own communities, thus allowing the healing process to begin.

The Wall That Heals exhibit was on the road for more than 13,000 miles and visited 26 communities from coast to coast during its 2021 season. 

The Wall was escorted by more than 3,000 vehicles into those communities, seen by nearly 200,000 visitors. Guided tours of the exhibit were provided to more than 12,000 students.

At the Hawaiian Gardens regular City Council meeting December 13, resident Mike Laughlin give an update on the status of The Wall during public comment.

Laughlin stated “the Wall will arrive in March, we already cleared it with the ABCUSD School Board, and we will be putting it at Fedde. We approved the escort route and the Moskowitz Foundation gave us permission to meet up at the Bingo Club; we will tour around the city on the route approved by the committee. I will present that to the folks in Washington DC and then I will go to the Sheriff’s Department and get approval. We’ve already got a number of groups, veteran motorcycle groups and classic car groups that are going to participate in escorting The Wall around the city. The installation will be on Wednesday the 22nd and then it’s open to the public 24 hours a day until Sunday at 2 o’clock.

The three-quarter scale Wall replica is 375 feet in length and stands 7.5 feet high at its tallest point. With the replica at this size, visitors are able to experience The Wall rising above them as they walk towards the apex, a key feature of the design of The Wall in D.C.

Like the original Memorial, The Wall That Heals is erected in a chevron-shape, and visitors are able to do name rubbings of individual service members’ names on The Wall. The names are listed in order of date of casualty and alphabetically on each day. Beginning at the center/apex, the names start on the East Wall (right-hand side) working their way out to the end of that wing, picking up again at the far end of the West Wall (left-hand side) and working their way back into the center/apex. The first and last casualties are side by side at the apex of the Memorial.

The replica is constructed of Avonite, a synthetic granite, and its 144 individual panels are supported by an aluminum frame. Modern LED lighting from the top of The Wall provides readability of The Wall at night.

The Mobile Education Center

The Wall That Heals is transported from community to community in a 53-foot trailer.  When parked, the trailer opens with exhibits built into its sides, allowing it to serve as a mobile Education Center telling the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the divisive era in American history.

The mobile Education Center exhibit includes: digital photo displays of “Hometown Heroes” – service members whose names are on The Wall that list their home of record within the area of a visit; digital photo displays of Vietnam veterans from the local area honored through VVMF’s In Memory program which honors veterans who returned home from Vietnam and later died; video displays that teach about the history and impact of The Wall; educational exhibits told through items representative of those left at The Wall in D.C.; a replica of the In Memory plaque; a map of Vietnam and a chronological overview of the Vietnam War. The exhibits tell the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the era surrounding the conflict, and are designed to put American experiences in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context.