By Al Morrissette
(Hesperia)–The Hesperia Parks and Recreation Department provides the location which is a local historic house and church on the corner of Main and “C” Streets. The High Desert AMVET and VFW Post provides the staffing and assistance and the Antelope Valley Chapter of the Point Man Ministry provides the Moving Vietnam Veteran Wall.
On Saturday, Nov 6 at 11am, an official Opening Ceremony for the mobile veteran’s memorial was attended by approximately 500 visitors. This nexus at a time of traditional veteran appreciation was well embraced by local residents as seniors that still vividly remember the confusion within the United States during that war era conveyed their experiences directly to family and friends. Like thousands that have attended in these few days of the wall being in Hesperia, you can witness and participate in some of these conversations and take your own personal time of remembrance because the site is open 24 hours a day until Veteran’s Day Nov 11.
The stature of this wall is no less elegant that the original wall in Washington DC which recently added 6 new names on May 30, 2010. This addition brings the total of names to 58.267 and though this traveling wall does not yet have the additional names, it does contain all the others. The Moving Wall is 256-ft long and 6-ft tall with 58,261 names with a center piece statue of “The Fallen Soldier”.
For visitors to the Hesperia site you will find 2 tents, one has a data base of the location of every name on the wall so that if you seek a particular person it is easy to find. The other tent has information about AMVET, which is a veteran’s support organization that will help all military veterans that have served.
The original Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was established in 1979 and the first phase of the memorial was the opening of the Wall at the Constitution Garden in 1982. Soon to be completed is an underground Education center that will help visitors discover the stories of those named on the Wall and understand the values embodied by military members who have served in all of American Wars.
The need of the “Moving Wall” was quickly realized and the first was on the road in 1986. The need stems from an influx of enquiries from Americans that could not make it to Washington DC but felt the need to participate, heal and share. Since then the need has grown and several organizations such as the Antelope Valley Chapter of the Point Man Ministry have answered that call. But they do not have staff and rely upon volunteers such as Ellen Sullivan who has spent numerous hours working at the Data Base Tent. Ms Sullivan said, “What an honor to participate in people’s lives and help them during this occasion”. Ms Sullivan is the Women’s Auxiliary Chaplain at the Phelan VFW Post 9415 and also serves as the coordinator of Arm Forces Service for the High Desert Red Cross.
The name, Moving Wall does not signify that it is portable, but signifies that when you have visited it, the reverence, respect and outpouring of love for those gave the ultimate sacrifice is a “Moving Experience”.
A related and special place to visit is The Virtual Wall (http://www.virtualwall.org) which has memorial pages honoring all the women and men who are named on “The Wall” in Washington, DC. I lost my fiance in Vietnam, and I found this spot to be a comfort — especially since I was able to add a photo to his profile page.
You can leave tributes, letters, poems, photos, and other memorials to someone named on The Wall for other visitors to view.