The Wall That Heals
Jim Oxley (ALR 484)
Wednesday November 18, 2015 4:55 pm
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - The Wall That Heals, a half-size replica of the black granite Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C., is open to the public free of charge at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.
The wall, which honors those who died in the Vietnam War or remain missing, will stay open around the clock through 5 p.m. Sunday.
About 55 police and veterans with the Patriot Guard and Rolling Thunder rode motorcycles alongside the wall as it arrived in Simi Valley on Wednesday morning. The wall includes the names of more than 58,000 men and women, just like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Harry Wilson, 70, a Simi Valley resident who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, helped escort the wall from its most recent display area at Porter Ranch.
“I’m very proud to do this. I’m a veteran, and I honor all the people that were lost in any war,” said Wilson.
Simi Valley Police Commander Robert Arabian also helped escort the wall through Simi Valley.
“We got a lot of thumbs-up, smiles and waves from drivers, which was actually very nice, Arabian said.
Noah Koziel and other Seabees from Naval Base Ventura County Port Hueneme helped erect the wall at the Reagan Library. It opened to the public at noon.
“This is just a little bit we can do to help honor the sacrifice they made for our country,” said Koziel.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund takes the wall all over the United States. Tim Tetz, the organization’s director of outreach, said the wall stops at 35 locations a year and this is the first time it has been displayed at a presidential library.
He said 120 community volunteers will be helping with the display during its stay in Simi Valley.
“It’s magical to see at night with the lights on it,” Tetz said.
He recalled one time when a man came to the wall looking for the name of a soldier, whom he had recently learned was his son.
“It was an opportunity for him to pay respect to the boy he never knew,” Tetz said.
Accompanying the replica is a mobile education center that displays the photos of some of the service members whose names are on the wall.
An opening ceremony for The Wall That Heals will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday and will include the reading of all 106 Ventura County residents whose names are on the wall.
Veterans will be at the wall to answer questions from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. And on Saturday, a free screening of the movie “Brave! Common Men, Uncommon Valor” will take place at 1 p.m. at the Reagan Library. The movie tells the story of Bravo Company, First Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment, which was trapped in the siege of Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam Memorial Collection, made up of items collected at the Vietnam Wall in Washington, will be on display at the library until Nov. 30.
Melissa Giller, the library’s communication director, said the National Park Service loaned about 40 items from its collection. They include letters left to loved ones, wedding rings, stuffed animals, even a harmonica with a personal story behind it.
“They’re the most touching items you’ll ever see,” Giller said.
For more information, call the Reagan Library at 522-2977.
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