The Moving Wall Returns to Jefferson City to Celebrate Vietnam Veterans
Jefferson City residents and veterans reflected on the history of the Vietnam War at “The Moving Wall” opening ceremony event Thursday afternoon. The ceremony kicked off the five-day event which features memorial services, live music and an opportunity to see the half-size replica of the original Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.
“The Moving Wall” first came to Jefferson City in 2005. Communities across the country have the opportunity to request the wall, and this year, for the tenth anniversary, The Jefferson City Veterans Council has brought it back.
The congressionally sanctioned wall is 6 feet tall, with each leg 126 feet long. Jill Snodgrass, lead organizer for the event, said that there was no more majestic setting for the wall’s placement than the capitol’s south lawn.
More than 200 community volunteers pulled together to make this event possible. Volunteers serve at information tents and are able to help people locate names on the wall. Counselors will be on site and students from across the state can receive tours by Vietnam veterans.
One unique exhibit featured is called “Through the Eyes.” The exhibit will feature Vietnam memorabilia and an informational movie.
The festivities began with an opening ceremony at noon. The ceremony featured two speeches: one from a former POW captured in Vietnam and the other from a Vietnam pilot.
Following the ceremony, State Sen. Mike Kehoe invited all Vietnam veterans and guests to a lunch in the Capitol Rotunda.
Later in the evening a street party with a free concert is scheduled.
“The veterans wanted to have something where they could be together in a more relaxed atmosphere, so they came up with the idea of the street party,” Snodgrass said.
The two bands featured have members who are former military marines. There will be picnic tables and plenty of food to be purchased. The event is for all ages.
Iraq War veteran and logistics chairman for the event Keith Loethen, said that the street party is a long awaited celebration for Vietnam Veterans.
“They paved the road for us to follow. They sacrificed and came home and were not welcome. This to me is a way to give them that welcome and to pay homage to their sacrifice,” Loethen said.
The wall will be open 24-7 with displays and information tents open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., all names on the wall will be read out. The services for the day will end with a playing of taps.
“A lot of Vietnam veterans are here and I know that some of them will have a hard time, going to the wall. It will be an emotional event for them,” Loethen said.
Before the wall leaves there will be a sunset service ride on Sunday evening. Those interested are encouraged to meet at 5 p.m. at the Capitol Mall and will visit five local cemeteries with Veterans memorials. The ride will commence with a non-denominational service at sunset at the wall.
The event comes to a close on Monday at 3 p.m. The final speech is to be delivered by Colonel Jackson, a former state legislature and Vietnam veteran. Following the speech, volunteers will dismantle the wall.
“There are over 58,000 names on the wall, that’s a lot of brothers and sisters that these folks left behind, they deserve our honor and our respect,” said Loethen.