Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Moving Wall

The Moving Wall, here shown installed at Granada, Mississippi, is coming to Eugene this fall.
My good friend Gary Bartel informed me about plans for bringing an important icon of U.S. history to Lane County this fall. Dubbed The Moving Wall, the display is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC. It is 253 feet long, consisting of 74 six-foot tall aluminum panels. Each panel is painted with a two-part glossy black polyurethane, giving the surface a mirror-like finish similar to that of the original memorial. Gary, himself a Vietnam veteran, wants to publicize its coming to Eugene and help those working to bring it here by calling for volunteer help and donations in support of the exhibit. 
The Moving Wall will be on display in the grassy field at the west end of Skinner Butte Park in Eugene, beginning at noon on Thursday, September 29 through closing on Sunday, October 2. Anyone will be allowed to visit the wall, free of charge, whenever the park is open. 
The Moving Wall last visited Eugene 30 years ago, situated on exactly the same site proposed by the organizers for this year’s installation. 
Like the stone panels of the original memorial in the nation’s capital, the aluminum panels of The Moving Wall bear the names of the 58,306 Americans who lost their lives (or remain missing while in action) during the Vietnam conflict. Rather than engraved as on the original’s stone panels, the names are silk-screened. Rubbings of the names on The Moving Wall may be done using only the materials supplied at the event. 
I’ve visited, and like others been moved by, the poignant original situated at the west end of National Mall in Washington, DC. I also well remember the controversy that accompanied the 1981 unveiling of the design by Maya Lin. I found the design remarkable not only because of its originality but also because of Lin’s youth at the time (21 years old, a year younger than I was). Her competition-winning scheme sparked a heated debate that only its construction and wide acceptance would temper in due course.
The Moving Wall itself is largely the work of Vietnam veteran John Devitt, who vowed to build the traveling version after attending the 1982 dedication of the memorial. He was so impressed by the healing nature of the Wall that he devoted himself to finding a way to help others who might not have the opportunity to visit the capital to share that experience. With the help of fellow veterans, Mr. Devitt built the replica and since 1984 has toured the country with it, drawing tens of millions of visits. The demand to see The Moving Wall is extremely high, so its second trip to Eugene is very special. 
Hosting The Moving Wall is a complicated and costly endeavor. Site preparation, security, visitor assistance, advertising, and a multitude of other requirements mean the Emerald Empire Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) cannot make it happen without the help of others. The chapter asks for support of any kind: volunteer assistance, logistical skill, or financial support. To donate funds or otherwise support its effort to produce The Moving Wall event, contact the chapter’s organizing committee at The Emerald Empire Chapter is a tax-exempt 501(c)(19) veterans organization, so all donations are tax deductible. 
Interested in making a financial contribution? Make your checks payable to “Emerald Empire Chapter, MOAA” and send to P.O. Box 767, Eugene, OR 97440.

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