Volunteers will read each of the 58,249 names of Vietnam War servicemen killed or missing when a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial stops at the Missouri Capitol’s south lawn next week.
The Moving Wall is approximately half the size of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., but includes all the names carved into the original. Volunteers will also help visitors locate and make rubbings of names on the wall.
Vietnam veteran and Rep. Jack Jackson, R-Wildwood, said the Moving Wall offers a healing opportunity for veterans of the Vietnam War and other wars and veterans’ families.
“I’ve seen some hurts and scars with respect to how Vietnam veterans were received when they returned from the war,” said Jackson. “When we begin to honor those who gave everything, we begin to accept the ‘thank-yous’ the state and nation is giving us.”
The Moving Wall will arrive on a truck today. Pat Rowe-Kerr, state veterans ombudsman with the Missouri Veterans Commission, encouraged people to meet the truck at the Ashland overpass on Highway 63 to escort the wall to the Capitol. The display will take a day and a half to set up, Rowe-Kerr said.
The opening ceremonies will begin at noon Tuesday, featuring music by the 40-piece Fort Leonard Wood 399th Army band. Vietnam veterans Jackson, Col. John Clark, who was a prisoner of war, and retired Lt. Col. Lin Appling will speak.
Closing ceremonies will be held at 3 p.m. Nov. 27.
Names will be read continuously from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day, but the wall will remain open all night for those who prefer a quiet visit.
“We want to treat the wall, the veterans and their families with the respect and reverence they deserve,” Rowe-Kerr said.
“It’s really important that people come and share their thoughts and emotions,” Jackson said. “The wall is a ‘welcome home’ to veterans.”
The traveling memorial has visited Missouri 28 times since its completion in 1984, but has never made a stop at the state capital.
Al Davis, president of the Jefferson City Veteran’s Council, said it took two years and several thousand dollars to bring the Moving Wall to Jefferson City.
“We are overdue for it at the Capitol,” Davis said. “We should have had it here a long time ago.”
The Jefferson City appearance will be the final one this year for the Moving Wall, which is on its way to Michigan for winter storage.