The names of more than 58,000 American men and women who died in the Vietnam War or still remain missing will be on display for three days in Bethlehem when The Wall that Heals, a half scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., enters Elm Avenue Park.
The 250-foot long wall will be on display Aug. 9-12 following a motorcycle escort from Interstate 88 through the state Thruway Exit 23, and down routes 32 and 9W.
The reaction is quite wonderful when we arrive, said Suzi Granger of Rolling Thunder, the organization that will be leading the motorcade escort into Bethlehem. "Such a large number of individuals were affected by the Vietnam War."
The motorcycle escort of will take place Aug. 7, and set-up will take place the following day. Opening ceremonies will be Aug. 9 at 10 a.m., when a reading of the names will be followed by "Taps."
"There will be a continuous reading of names on the wall," said Granger.
The Wall that Heals exhibition is organized by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the organization in charge of preserving The Wall in Washington, D.C.
Several traveling replica walls exist. The Wall that Heals has been touring the country since 1996 inside a large tractor-trailer that doubles as a working museum once the wall is set up on the grounds of its new location.
"The purpose is to bring the wall to different communities in the United States so veterans and their families who cannot make the trip to Washington, D.C., have a closer place to visit with loved ones and friends," said Granger.
There are several national and local sponsors of the tour with Sheehy-Palmer VFW Post 6776 on Delaware Avenue in Albany the main local sponsor.
"There are still a lot of us who just can't face going to Washington, D.C., to face The Wall," said John Eisenhauer, Commander of the Sheehy-Palmer VFW Post, who also served in Vietnam. "It's just a hard thing to do."