BRATTLEBORO—Ever since its dedication in Washington, D.C., in 1982, the black granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has served as enduring recognition for the more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remain missing in action during the Vietnam War.
It draws nearly four million visitors each year, but there are many more people who want to visit but cannot go to Washington for one reason or another.
That is how the Moving Wall was born.
The half-size replica of the original memorial travels around the country. And, in September 2020, it will be coming to town.
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 843 of Brattleboro recently received word that its application was approved to host the Vietnam Combat Veterans Moving Wall from Sept. 17 through 21 at Moore Field on Putney Road.
Len Derby, VVA Chapter 843 president, said he has visited the Moving Wall on 10 different occasions around the country, and it has been his organization’s goal for several years to host the memorial in Brattleboro.
It last made an appearance in Windham County in Wilmington in 2013.
“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but it doesn’t come cheap,” he said.
That’s why the local VVA chapter is putting out the call for donations from individuals, companies, and organizations, as well as seeking volunteers to help with the immense job of getting the Moving Wall to town.
Derby said the goal is to raise at least $7,500 to cover the costs.
The site where the wall is to be displayed, Moore Field, has a connection with another war. In 1942, during World War II, American Optical Company (AO) built a plant on Putney Road which employed more than 300 people.
It closed in 1983, and Fulflex, a maker of elastic products, moved in.
Derby said he used to work at Fulflex, so it was easy to convince the owners of the plant to allow the Moving Wall to be displayed on the north end of the field.
“We think it is an ideal location,” said Derby, pointing out that it is fully accessible to all.
The VVA Chapter also hopes to invite students from local schools to visit the Moving Wall and bring the history of one of this nation’s longest wars to a new generation.