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The Wall That Heals coming to Camden Wednesday

Posted: April 30, 2018 4:19 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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If you hear the sound of rolling thunder in downtown Camden on Wednesday morning, it will probably not be B-52s, but rather, motorcycles -- lots of motorcycles.

In fact, a large group of veterans on motorcycles will be escorting The Wall That Heals, the Vietnam War Memorial replica, through downtown Camden to a large field adjacent to Zemp Stadium on the grounds of Historic Camden, according to Glen Inabinet, a member of American Legion Post 17 who has been involved with bringing the memorial to Camden.

The Wall That Heals, and its accompanying mobile education center, will be here from Wednesday until Sunday and will be free and open to the public 24 hours a day.

“As a soldier and a proud Kershaw County native from the period of the Vietnam War, I join with all our citizens in supporting this memorial -- a time of remembrance and gratitude for the families of those who served and for the fallen,” Kershaw County Council Chairman Julian Burns said.

The Wall That Heals honors the more than 3 million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed forces in the Vietnam War and it bears the names of the more than 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. The current Wall That Heals is 375 feet long and stands 7.5 feet high.

Camden will be the only location in South Carolina to host The Wall That Heals in 2018, according to event coordinators.

A number of special events will occur while The Wall That Heals is here, including the presentation of the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) to veteran and Post 17 member John Blye, who flew with  B-52 bomber crew during the Vietnam War. The DFC is the nation’s second highest combat decoration our nation awards.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most visited memorials in our nation’s capital, with more than 5.3 million visitors each year. However, many Americans have not been able to visit what has become known to many as The Wall.  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), the organization that built The Wall in 1982, wants to give all veterans and their family members across America an opportunity to see the memorial.

More than 250,000 people visited The Wall That Heals in 2016. Since its debut in 1996, the exhibit has been on display in nearly 500 U.S. communities, in addition to an April 1999 tour of the Four Provinces of Ireland and a visit to Canada in 2005.

Hosting The Wall That Heals provides a community with a multi-day experience that includes an educational experience for local schools and organizations on the history of the Vietnam era and the wall. The exhibit includes The Wall replica and a mobile Education Center comprised of: digital displays of photos of service members whose names are on The Wall; letters and memorabilia representative of items left at The Wall in D.C.; a map of Vietnam, and a chronological overview of the Vietnam War. The exhibits tell the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the era surrounding the conflict, and are designed to put American experiences in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context.

VVMF coordinates local stops of The Wall That Heals and the accompanying mobile Education Center. The current schedule and more information can be found at:  www.thewallthatheals.org.  The 2018 national The Wall That Heals tour is hauled through a partnership with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and the trucking industry and generously sponsored by USAA.

The names on The Wall That Heals replicate the names on The Wall in Washington, D.C. As on The Wall, the names are listed alphabetically by day of casualty. Beginning at the center/apex, the names start on the East Wall (right-hand side) working their way out to the end of that wing, picking up again at the far end of the West Wall (left-hand side) and working their way back in to the center/apex. Thus, the beginning and ending of the conflict are joined at the center, signifying an epoch in American history.

The Wall That Heals is transported from community to community by a trailer with cases built into its sides, allowing it to serve as a mobile Education Center that tells the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the divisive era in American history.

To learn more about VVMF and the future Education Center at The Wall, visit www.vvmf.org or call (202) 393-0090 or go to www.facebook.com/twthcamdensc.

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