Sulphur Springs has been named as one of 28 sites across the country selected to host the Wall That Heals, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica Wall and Mobile Education Center, in 2021.
County Judge Robert Newsom at noon Thursday issued a proclamation announcing the honor and encouraging citizens to join the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in continuing to pay tribute to Vietnam veterans and their families by honoring the legacy of service and sacrifice.
Members of Hopkins County Marine Corps League and Hopkins County Military Coalition were on hand to for the reading of the proclamation, which was presented to Hopkins County Veterans Memorial Committee Treasurer/Freedom Ball Committee Co-Chair Mandy Kennedy on the courthouse steps at noon Thursday.
“It’s an event that’s going to bring people to Northeast Texas, to Hopkins County to see the beautiful city and county we live in and also it’s going to honor America,” Newsom said, and expressed thanks to the many people such as Kennedy and Freedom Ball Co-Chair Danny Davis whose efforts made it possible to bring The Wall That Heals to Sulphur Springs.
““Hosting The Wall That Heals provides an opportunity to honor and remember all those who served and sacrificed in the Vietnam War and educate visitors on the continuing impact of the Vietnam War on America,” Jim Knotts, president and CEO of Vietnma Veterans Memorial Fund, was quoted in a press release.
Kennedy expressed excitement at not only the only location in Texas selected to host The Wall That Heals, but to be able to do so the weekend before Veterans Day.
“It’s really unbelievable that we were selected on our first attempt – and that we were given our first choice of dates, November 4-7, 2021, right before Veteran’s Day,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy explained that to be eligible to apply, the applicants had to visit another location to see the wall and all that is involved in hosting it. They began information gathering in the fall of 2019. Applications were online and could only be submitted between a small window of time on one day. Applicants had to provide four different potential dates to host The Wall That Heals.
The Veterans Memorial Committee is partnering with Sulphur Springs ISD and the City of Sulphur Springs to host The Wall that Heals, as a means to “recognize our Veterans of the Vietnam War and offer our community’s grateful appreciation for their service during a difficult time in our nation’s history.”
“How fitting that we have this opportunity so many years later to commemorate the sacrifices they made by hosting this beautiful exhibit in their honor,” Kennedy said.
She credits those partnerships and community support as factors that likely put HCVM’s application to host The Wall That Heals ahead of others.
The cost to host the wall is $10,000, with additional funds going toward other costs associated with hosting it. Typically, the annual Freedom Ball raises funds which would be utilized for purposes to benefit and honor local veterans. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was made to postpone the Freedom Ball until 2021, as a precaution for the health and safety of the veterans and community members who would attend. The next Freedom Ball will be held on Armed Forces Day in 2021, with both years celebrated, but that means there’s funding available for such a project would be much smaller this year.
Kennedy said HCVM Committee is confident that the community would have come through with the funds needed to host this show of appreciation for Vietnam veterans. However, that was not necessary thanks to the substantial donation Carol Gunn Vernon made in honor of loved ones.
The Wall That Heals will arrived at Sulphur Springs High School Track Tuesday night, Nov. 2 in a 53-foot trailer, that opens with exhibits built into its sides, allowing it to serve as a mobile Education Center “telling the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the divisive era in American history.”
Community volunteers will set the Wall up, with a ceremony scheduled afterward. The exhibit will then be staffed 24-hours a day Nov. 4-7, 2021, for all who wish to visit the Vietnam memorial wall to remember and pay respect for those who served during the war. School and other groups will be welcome. Entry to the wall if free to the public “in honor of the more than 3 million Americans who served in the US Armed Forces in the Vietnam War.”
The Wall That Heals
The Wall That Heals is a program of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the nonprofit organization that built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1982. The Wall That Heals is the only traveling exhibit affiliated with The Wall in Washington, D.C. and includes the largest Wall replica that travels the country. Two VVMF staff members lead volunteers onsite, educate visitors to ensure the reflective atmosphere of The Wall That Heals, Newsom noted in the proclamation.
The three-quarter scale Wall replica is 375 feet in length and stands 7.5 feet high at its tallest point. Visitors will experience The Wall rising above them as they walk towards the apex, a key feature of the design of The Wall in D.C. Visitors will be able to do name rubbings of individual names from among those of the 58,279 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam and are listed on The Wall.
The mobile Education Center exhibit includes:
- Digital photo displays of “Hometown Heroes” – service members whose names are on The Wall that list their home of record within the area of a visit;
- Digital photo displays of Vietnam veterans from the local area honored through VVMF’s In Memory program which honors veterans who returned home from Vietnam and later died as a result of their service;
- Video displays that teach about the history and impact of The Wall;
- Educational exhibits told through items representative of those left at The Wall in D.C.;
- A replica of the In Memory plaque;
- 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.
The 2021 national The Wall That Heals tour is generously sponsored by USAA. Through a partnership with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), the trucking industry, and Blue Beacon, the exhibit is able to travel across the country.
Since its debut in 1996, the exhibit has been on display in nearly 700 U.S. communities in addition to an April 1999 tour of the Four Provinces of Ireland and a visit to Canada in 2005.
Two VVMF staff members lead volunteers on site, educate visitors and students, and ensure the reflective atmosphere of The Wall. More information can be found at: https://www.vvmf.org/The-Wall-That-Heals/