The Wall That Heals, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be on display Feb. 27 through March 2 on the west steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento.
While other groups have displayed traveling wall replicas, The Wall That Heals is part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the organization that brought the actual wall to life.
It was dedicated in 1982 and today lists 58,286 names. It is among the top visited memorials in Washington, D.C., drawing 4.5 million visitors each year.
California Assemblyman Jim Frazier, along with Assemblyman Ken Cooley, is hosting the exhibit.
The Wall That Heals has visited more than 350 cities and towns throughout the U.S. It has been more than a decade since its last stop in Sacramento, according to Tim Tetz, director of outreach for the fund.
It is a perfect 50 percent scale of the actual wall, down to the font of all 58,286 names. When setting up the replica, Tetz says his team even tries to duplicate the exact angles of the layout of the actual memorial.
Traveling with The Wall That Heals is a mobile precursor to the new Education Center, a museum planned to begin construction in 2016. The underground center will be located adjacent to the wall, in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial.
The (planned) Education Center will feature a display about service and what it means to serve the nation, “from Bunker Hill to Baghdad.” Also scheduled are exhibits showcasing items left at the wall through the years, including everything from baseball gloves and football helmets to shots of whiskey and a brand new motorcycle.
All items left at the wall are categorized and stored on a daily basis. Tetz notes that some of the items are left not by family or loved ones, but by people who want to leave mementos for these men and women who never had the opportunity for a normal life.
“The pictures and letters are haunting,” Tetz said.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated exhibits is the Wall of Faces, which will include photos of every soldier who was killed or went missing during Vietnam. According to Tetz, it will be a two-story wall displaying photos of all those whose birthday it is that particular day. All 58,286 photos will be eventually be available for viewing.
The Education Center will also memorialize those lost in combat post 9/11.
“As the War on Terror evolved, the Vietnam veterans, and survivors of those lost on the wall, began to realize the wall had a special significance for this new generation of heroes, too,” Tetz said. “Because of this, it naturally evolved that our Wall of Faces in the Education Center would temporarily serve this new era. It is our hope in the center that those 7,000 who have lost their lives since 9/11 will also be remembered.”
Next week’s visit from the traveling museum will include several displays featuring items left at the wall, a timeline of the war, a history of the wall, and two panels of pictures. As of this week, the fund has collected nearly 34,000 of the 58,286 photos needed to complete the Wall of Photos.
Those with information about, or having pictures of family, friends, neighbors, or classmates that were lost in Vietnam, can go to www.VVMF.org. Tetz will also be on hand from dawn to dusk at The Wall That Heals next week with a scanner to scan images.