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Moving Wall plans are once again in motion

Veterans resume fundraising efforts to bring Vietnam memorial to Brattleboro

BRATTLEBORO—After their plans were delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Tristate Chapter 843 has resumed raising funds to support the visit of the Moving Wall to town in 2021.

A half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., the wall is 252 feet long and made of 74 black aluminum panels. It will be on display on Moore Field on Putney Road, near the junction of Routes 5 and 9 and Interstate 91, from Sept. 16 to 20.

The local VVA chapter started doing its planning and fundraising in the fall of 2019 to bring the Moving Wall to Brattleboro for its first stop in Windham County since it was displayed in Wilmington in 2013.

Chapter 843 President Len Derby told The Commons at the time that bringing the wall to town was “something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but it doesn’t come cheap.”

Transport and installation of the wall costs approximately $10,000. Chapter 843 members had begun raising money in 2019, but the pandemic brought fundraising to halt, along with their plan to host the wall last September.

The chapter opted to postpone the display until 2021. According to a VVA blog post, about $7,500 remains to be raised.

According to Vietnam Combat Veterans, Ltd., the group responsible for the care and transport of two Moving Wall displays around the United States, all scheduled displays of the memorial were canceled or postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

However, now that the pandemic shows signs of easing, Chapter 843 feels it is now safe to make plans to host the Moving Wall.

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 that employed more than 300 people.

It closed in 1981, and Fulflex, a maker of elastic products, soon moved in. Fulflex currently is one of the leading suppliers of elastic for the now-ubiquitous facial masks that have become a valuable tool in a contemporary fight — the battle to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Chapter 843 has started a GoFundMe page at bit.ly/609-wall. Donations may also be sent to the VVA Memorial Fund, 1161 Collins Rd., Brattleboro, VT 05301.

The chapter said it has already gotten a big in-kind donation. The Brattleboro Police Department has offered to provide, without charge, 24-hour security for the wall during its time here.

For more information about the Wall and VVA, contact Derby at 802-368-7654 or lenvietvet@yahoo.com.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #609 (Wednesday, April 21, 2021). This story appeared on page A1.

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