The granite, ebony black replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall journeyed the 20 miles from the Iuka, Mississippi weigh station to Corinth’s Hallelujah Hill on Wednesday, June 20. Escorted by over 125 motorcyclists, members of the American Legion Riders, the Patriot Guard Riders, the Christian Motorcycle Association, and many independent riders participated in bringing the Traveling Wall’s second visit to Corinth.
Local retired veterans and other volunteers assembled the memorial on Thursday. The wall stands six feet tall in the center and reaches almost 300 feet from end to end. With yet another bolt secured for a section of the two 144-foot wings, veterans wiped sweat from their faces and necks, welcoming the privilege to participate in this weekend community event.
The Wall’s Corinth exhibition was sponsored by Veterans and Family Honors, Inc., a 501 c3 charity organization comprised of dedicated, retired men and women who have served their country as soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines during times of war and peace.
The Wall—a tangible way of connecting.
The three-fifths scale model of Washington DC’s Vietnam Memorial Wall lists more than 58,000 names of men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. Their names are listed alphabetically by day of casualty. More than three million Americans served in the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War, including my husband, brother, brother-in-law, and several cousins.
The temporary 24×30 information tent, located at the intersection of U.S. 45 and Highway 2, offered brief relief from the Mississippi heat. Assisted by a wall manager, individuals poured over reference books searching for their beloved service men and women.
My husband and I were two of the estimated 600 individuals who attended Friday’s solemn opening ceremony. Of particular interest to us, the Missing Man Reenactment. Featuring pyrotechnics, the firing of a Vietnam War-era weapon, and Bad Bob’s emotional reading of casualty statistics, the poignant 20-minute program resulted in more than one tear shedding.
Authentic. Dramatic. Real.
Ending a true reality show, Bad Bob’s quivering voice asked the typical question heard so often among Vietnam veterans.
“When were you in ‘Nam?” “Last night.”
Single men and women moved slowly along the wall, searching, reaching out at times, caressing it with tender touches. However, there seemed to be more couples and small groups, who carefully traced over the etchings of names with pencil and paper. I felt a bit uncomfortable asking for permission to photograph a couple etching a name, but their smiles melted any anxiety I may have had.
Mementos are often left, remembrances of and for the loved ones lost. With my second viewing of the wall on Saturday evening, I was drawn to the white rose lovingly placed against one panel. A symbol of true love, purity, innocence, the single long-stemmed rose spoke to me of an overwhelming sense of loss…and hope.
Since I was unable to observe the assembling of the memorial, it was my distinct opportunity to capture a few images of its dismantling on Monday, June 25. Several inmates from the Alcorn County Correction’s Center and other community individuals labored in the early morning Mississippi heat and sun, carefully taking apart each section of the 300-foot wall.
It is my prayer that wherever the traveling wall is displayed in this great country, it would help someone who has lost a friend or loved one during the Vietnam War. Their sacrifices were not in vain, and over 58,000 names are forever displayed and honored on The Vietnam Memorial Wall, traveling or stationary.
Hallelujah Hill, Corinth, Mississippi—hallowed ground from June 20-25, 2012
Postscript: As I concluded the writing of this publication, the Lord reminded me of similar lists of service men and women—names recorded in 1940’s newspapers during World War II. As age marches on in my life, I must seize opportunities to walk in another’s shoes or boots.
Until each of us sees the faces with the names and feels the pain associated with each casualty on these lists, we will not be able to totally understand each other.39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger 8,283 on the Wall were just 19 years old 8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded http://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam-war/casualty
Gratitude and much thanks given to ALL who participated in The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall returning to Corinth, including the Daily Corinthian. Reporters—Bobby J. Smith, Steve Beavers, and Mark Boehler.
If you know someone instrumental in bringing the Wall to northeast Mississippi, would you pass on this publication as my way of saying “thank you” to them. We all can use a pat on the back for efforts given, and this writing is mine to them.Vietnam Memorial Wall, Washington DC (2005)