LAFAYETTE — A half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is traveling to Lafayette in November. Volunteers are needed to help honor to the more than 58,000 veterans who gave their lives in the war.
“We will be reading the names around the clock of every name on the wall,” said Tom Grote, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War. “There’s 58,272 names on the wall. You can see that will take a lot of time.”
Volunteers are needed to work together in short shifts to take turns reading the names aloud, he explained.
The half-scale replica is a traveling exhibit called “The Wall That Heals” will be on display at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens Nov. 17-21.
The replica was created by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the same nonprofit created by Congress to build the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to help bring healing to Vietnam veterans and families in communities across the country, according to the nonprofit group’s website.
Grote said he expects the exhibit to stir emotional reactions from its visitors.
The Wall includes the names of 884 Louisiana veterans.
“I think it will bring a lot of healing,” he said. “It’s going to be a very emotional experience.”
The public will be allowed to make paper rubbings of names on the wall, and volunteers are also needed to help locate names via a computer database that will be onsite.
As part of the traveling exhibit, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund also seeks information and photographs of those on the wall to upload into its database.
Onsite, visitors will be able to upload photos and information about their deceased veterans.
Currently, only 21,000 photographs and background information is available for the more than 58,000 veterans on the wall, Grote said.
Since 1996, “The Wall That Heals” has visited more than 300 communities, according to the nonprofit’s website.
Grote said it cost about $6,000 to fund the local exhibit, and organizers are trying to raise additional funds to display a Vietnam War-era Huey helicopter at the site, as well.