KEARNEY – “The Wall That Heals” will be making its way through Kearney the second weekend in August, the 11 through the 14. The three-fourths scale traveling replica of the Vietnam War Memorial brings to each of its 25 destinations an annual reminder of the sacrifice of the United States armed forces during the conflict.
This year’s wall tour commemorates a special anniversary, as well: the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. turns 40 years old this year.
Volunteer coordinator Melinda Haag says the wall conjures in visitors unique, but all equally powerful, reminders. “Every person who visits the wall has a very personal reason for being there. It could be for people they served with, a family member. I have a close family member whose fiancé’s name is on the wall.”
The wall’s visit to Kearney, chosen from an overwhelming number of applicants from across the United States, coincides not only with the 40th anniversary of the wall in D.C. but with the reunion of Nebraska’s Vietnam War veterans, as well.
“We are so very honored,” Haag says, “that ‘The Wall That Heals’ will be in Kearney in conjunction with the reunion.”
Given the sheer scale of the operation, setting up the wall and breaking it down, the need for volunteers is ongoing, even with pledged support from some of Kearney’s familiar faces.
“The UNK wrestling team has committed to having fifty wrestlers and coaches that will be helping us on both days. Akrs Equipment and the YRTC are sending a contingent to help us with this sacred duty.”
For those a bit shy around masonry, Haag says the project needs many hands in different ways. “We have what we call general volunteers, too. Our mission is to never leave the wall unattended from setup to breakdown. So we’ll need folks to help find names on the wall, to help guide visitors to the wall, and to answer any questions about the wall. We actually need 132 volunteers for this.”
Those interested in setting up or deconstructing the wall should know: construction begins a day prior to the opening, on August 10. All interested in volunteering throughout the wall’s presentation should contact Melinda Haag directly by phone at (308) 379-8840 or by email at BalloonGirl83@gmail.com