Monday, March 11, 2013

Nov. 7-11: Moving Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial at West Aurora High School

Aurora, Ill. - It has been 24 years since The Moving Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial has been on display in Aurora. But it’s coming back this Veterans Day through the efforts of the Fox Valley Veterans Breakfast Club, Vietnam veteran Herschel Luckinbill and an army of volunteers.
The Moving Wall, which is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will rise in the practice soccer fields of West Aurora High School and be on display Nov. 7 through 11. In addition, the traveling replica of the World War II memorial and other military displays will be on display during the “Field of Honor” event.
Luckinbill submitted an application to bring The Moving Wall to Aurora almost a year ago. He recently was notified that the Wall would be scheduled to arrive in Aurora in early November. Although he originally was aiming for a summer date, Luckinbill said he “couldn’t be happier” that The Moving Wall will be in Aurora on the holiday that honors America’s veterans.
The Wall is engraved with the names of 58,282 Americans who perished in the Vietnam Conflict or are still unaccounted for (Prisoners of War and Missing in Action).
“The entire Aurora community is extremely supportive of our troops, they demonstrate respect for our veterans and they take pride in our military,” said Dr. Rudy Keller, co-principal of West Aurora High School and a member of the committee to bring The Moving Wall to Aurora. “The Moving Wall will heighten the patriotism that already flourishes in Aurora.”
When The Moving Wall first visited Aurora 24 years ago, it was displayed on the Fox Valley Park District’s Veterans Island. Former American Legion Post 84 Commander and Army veteran Norris “Doc” Erickson, who died in 2012, was instrumental in bringing the wall to Aurora in 1989. Aurora was the only Chicago-area host of The Moving Wall that year.
Now that the 2013 dates and venue have been reserved for The Moving Wall, Luckinbill’s team is looking for both sponsors and volunteers. The cost of bringing The Moving Wall to Aurora is $30,000.
Luckinbill is estimating upward of 150,000 people will come to Aurora during the four days The Moving Wall is on display. “There will be plenty to do,” Luckinbill said. “There will be a task for every person who would like to help.” A community volunteer meeting is being planned. Those interested in volunteering for the event or being sponsors can call Luckinbill at 630-801-9591.
Like the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., The Moving Wall was paid for solely through private contributions. No tax dollars were spent on either memorial. The concept and actual building of The Moving Wall grew out of the efforts of three Vietnam veterans from California who wished to share the power that one of the men, John Devitt, experienced while attending the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982. The Moving Wall was completed in 1984.
The length of The Moving Wall is 254 feet, slightly longer than half the length of the memorial in Washington, D.C.
“We want this to be the biggest event this Wall and Aurora has ever seen, and we want it to honor all veterans,” said Luckinbill. “As a Vietnam veteran, having the wall come to Aurora means everything to me. I served on the first American ship that received direct gunfire in the Vietnam War. I lost a shipmate who slept right above me. I know what war’s about.”

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