The Vietnam Veterans Memorial that draws millions of visitors to Washington, D.C., has been replicated near Perryville, down to the actual spelling mistakes in the names.
Missouri's National Veterans Memorial wall, known as the "sister wall," is a full-scale model with the same 58,318 names on black granite of the veterans who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
The wall in Perryville opened in fall 2018, and an official grand opening for the memorial was held May 18 and 19.
For the event, visitors will have the option to ride a Bell AH-1 Cobra Helicopter, a Hughes OH-6 Cayuse ("Loach") Helicopter or a Bell UH-i Iroquois ("Huey") Helicopter for $50 a trip.
The memorial's campus include the permanent duplicate of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., an enclosed Welcome Center, a museum and ample free parking.
The memorial is accessible for those with disabilities and has year-round access, day and night, with no admission fee and no reservation needed.
"We have golf carts for handicapped visitors who need a ride down to the wall and tour guides who will take them down and provide detail about the memorial," said Edward Webber, a 68-year-old memorial volunteer and army veteran in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971.
Within the visitor center, guests can make donations to the memorial, explore the gift shop, and see paintings and photos from the war and its veterans. Additionally, what is now a dining facility will be turned into a chapel for ceremonies and services for veterans who want to be buried at the memorial.
The wall was the vision of Jim Edelman, a Vietnam veteran of the Tet Offensive. Edeman made a promise to himself in 1968 that if he survived the war, he would honor his comrades and others who served the country.
He experienced financial success in the years after his service and became one of the memorial's primary founders. He also donated to the project 46 acres of land that had been in his family for three generations.