Each year an estimated 5.6 million people visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., to honor those who served, to pay their respects to those who gave their lives, to learn more about the conflict and, in some cases, to heal the wounds of war that remain.
This September, members of the Ohio University community and the greater region will have an opportunity to share in those experiences right here in Southeast Ohio.
Ohio University’s Athens Campus is one of more than 40 communities on the 2017 national tour of “The Wall That Heals,” a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “The Wall That Heals” will be open to the public 24 hours a day Sept. 14-17 at Bicentennial Park.
The visit is being spearheaded by Ohio's Brigadier General James M. Abraham and Colonel Arlene F. Greenfield Veterans and Military Student Services Center and the Campus Involvement Center with support from partners through the University and Athens communities.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund unveiled “The Wall That Heals” on Veterans Day 1996 as part of its mission to honor and preserve the legacy of service and educate all generations about the impact of the Vietnam War. Since its dedication, the wall has visited more than 400 communities through the United States.
“The Wall That Heals” is about 250 feet long, and its 24 individual panels are erected in a chevron shape. Like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the more than 58,300 names on “The Wall That Heals” are listed by day of casualty. Adding to “The Wall That Heals” experience is a mobile education center that houses exhibits designed to tell the story of the Vietnam War and the era surrounding the conflict as well as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The exhibits include photos of service members whose names are found on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well as letters and memorabilia left at the memorial in Washington, D.C.
Dave Edwards Sr., director of the Ohio's Veterans and Military Student Services Center, noted that the timing for “The Wall That Heals” visit was just right for Ohio.
“We’re always looking for partnerships and ways to bring more awareness to our veterans, for our veterans and about our veterans,” Edwards said, noting that the visit is the same week as the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and will coincide with OUA's Parents Weekend.
“The Wall That Heals” is scheduled to arrive on the Athens Campus on Sept. 13. It will open to the public on Sept. 14 with a grand opening ceremony planned for that evening.