Running your fingers over any of the 58,000-plus names inscribed on the wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. is to touch history, to remember those lost. Now the “Wall That Heals,” a 7.5-foot tall, 375-foot long, three-quarter-scale replica, is coming to Lake Pleasant.
“It’s a very emotional visit,” said Anthem resident and Vietnam veteran Jim Oliveri, who has seen both walls. “To go there and see it and recognize those are 58,000 names, mostly young fellows and women whose lives were cut short early, is a very touching thing. For me, it’s almost a religious thing.”
Oliveri served in Vietnam in 1964-65. For a long time he didn’t talk much about the experience, but now he speaks of his experience to veterans groups. “I find it cathartic,” he said. “A lot of us tend to submerge that and not speak about it at all.”
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Visitors can do name rubbings on the wall, as they often do in D.C., and a mobile education center will provide information about the war and the memorial in the nation’s capital, along with photos of some local veterans whose names are on the wall. A digital kiosk helps visitors locate the inscribed names they’re looking for.
After a visit, Oliveri said, “You spend the rest of the day thinking, ‘Why them and not me?’ There’s no explanation. It’s just the luck of the draw.”
The wall, lit at night, will be open 24 hours a day.
Thursday, March 14, 12:01 a.m.: Opens
Friday, March 15, 6 p.m.: Candlelight vigil honoring all Arizona veterans on the wall
Saturday, March 16, 10 a.m.: Honoring ceremony with speeches by local veterans
Sunday, March 17, 2 p.m.: Closing ceremony (the wall closes at 3 p.m.)
Location: Pleasant Harbor Marina
8708 W. Harbor Blvd.