Memorial Wall Is Slated to Come to Bellingham in August
Feb 25, 2019 06:00AM
By Pamela Johnson
story & photo by Marjorie Turner Hollman, Contributing Writer
On a rainy February night nearly 30 people gathered at Bellingham VFW Post 7272 hall to learn more about what goes into hosting the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which will be coming to Bellingham as part of the town’s 300th anniversary celebration. Veterans who served in various military campaigns were in attendance, as well as community members, all eager to support this 4-day, 24-hour-a-day event that will occur in August. Military humor, that is, good natured, gentle teasing among those in attendance, was a consistent feature of the evening. Jim Hastings, Chair of the Memorial and Veterans Day committees, who initiated the idea of having the event come to Bellingham, has been overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and response so far as people eager to pitch in with the multiple items on the to-do list step up to make this event a reality.
Mark your calendars now for August 22, around 3 pm, to witness the motorcycle parade that will escort the truck transporting the Wall from Wayland to Bellingham. It is scheduled to be set up in the field between Memorial School and the football field. The tractor trailer carries 140 wall panels made of synthetic granite supported by aluminum framing. When erected, the entire exhibit will stretch 375 feet in length and stand 7.5 feet at its tallest point. More than 58,000 names are engraved on this replica wall, with LED lighting along the top of the wall to facilitate readability day and night.
The exhibit will be open 24 hours a day for 4 days, so the group meeting at the VFW recently worked through a large list of tasks and sub-committees needed, including assuring safety of visitors, coordinating at least 150 needed volunteers who will be needed in shifts to help guide visitors through the exhibit, and other steps required to make the experience educational, respectful, and memorable.
The truck that transports the Wall turns into a mobile Education Center once the Wall is set up. According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website (http://www.vvmf.org/twth), “The exterior of the trailer features a timeline of ‘The War and The Wall’ and provides additional information about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Additional exhibits give visitors a better understanding of the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the collection of items left at the Wall.” Also at this website is a link to an app that can aid visitors in locating any specific name written on the wall.
Fundraising is a first priority, for initial costs associated with bringing the replica Wall to town, as well as money required for possible police details, fencing, flowers, memorial wreaths, t-shirts for volunteers, and unexpected incidental expenses. A Go Fund Me campaign has been created by Amanda Leavitt and can be accessed at https://www.gofundme.com/bring-the-vietnam-war-memorial-to-bellingham?
In-kind donations will be solicited from area businesses. The committee has already received a $1000 donation from the New England Division of the Marine Corps League.
For those interested in helping, upcoming meetings in March will take place on Wednesdays, March 13 and 27, at 7 PM, at the Bellingham VFW hall, located at 940 South Main Street/Route 126. For more information, contact James Hastings at [email protected].