BLACKFOOT – The traveling Vietnam Veteran Memorial known as the The Wall That Heals will be making its first-ever pitstop in Blackfoot in September.
The memorial wall extends over 300 feet and will be on display for all to enjoy Sept. 16-19 at Jensen’s Grove.
“On Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) unveiled a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States. Since its dedication, The Wall That Heals has been displayed at nearly 700 communities throughout the nation, spreading the Memorial’s healing legacy to millions,” states the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website.
The wall will be put on display for the people of Blackfoot and surrounding areas to visit and enjoy the memories of those who served and gave the greatest sacrifice during the Vietnam War. The mobile unit is hauled on the back of a semi and tractor trailer that stands nearly seven feet tall when put together and will allow those to share memories with their loved ones who have served and returned and remember those who served and sacrificed their lives.
Last year, prior to the mass spread of COVID-19, The Wall That Heals was scheduled to make the trip to Idaho. However, following the large spread of the virus, the travel of the wall was cancelled, and the tour was put in limbo.
The hope of the wall traveling to the area waned as people waited. One local veteran, Fred Saunders, pushed for the wall to come to Blackfoot for years, sending countless letters to members of the Idaho Senate, Gov. Brad Little, and Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll. Saunders’ letters expressed his desire to bring the wall to Blackfoot and explained why it should be important to the people of the community as well. Saunders has visited the wall in different locations including San Antonio, while visiting his son, Fred Jr., after he returned from overseas.
People will be given the opportunity to go through the visitors’ center and information area to learn more about the wall and its history.
Like the original Memorial, The Wall That Heals is erected in a chevron-shape and visitors can do name rubbings of individual service members’ names on the wall. The replica is constructed of Avonite, a synthetic granite, and its 140 numbered panels are supported by an aluminum frame. Machine engraving of the more than 58,000 names along with modern LED lighting provide readability of the wall, day and night.
As on the wall, the names on The Wall That Heals are listed 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, joining the beginning and end of the conflict at the center, states the VVMF website.