By Lee Hughes
Staff Reporter 

Services, ceremonies - parking

The Moving Wall schedule of events

 

After 18 months of planning, The Moving Wall, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., will be arriving at the Medical Lake Middle School soccer field on the 200 block of South Prentis Street on Thursday, June 13 at 9 .m., via an escort by law enforcement, fire and veteran motorcycle groups.

The Wall will be on display beginning noon Thursday through noon Sunday. It will be staffed by volunteers and available for viewing 24 hours a day.

“It was a daunting task for our little town, but we are not the type to be easily deterred,” Re*Imagine Medical Lake board member Terri Cooper said in an email.

A volunteer crew of 100 people will begin preparation on Monday, June 10, for The Moving Wall’s arrival.

Ceremonies

While The Moving Wall exhibit will be open 24 hours a day in Medical Lake, there are three full-honors ceremonies planned that will include bagpipes and drums, honor guards from across the state who will present the colors, perform a flag-folding ceremony, and render POW/MIA honors.


Traditional rifle salutes, taps and retiring of the colors will conclude each ceremony.

Things will officially kick off on Thursday, June 13 at 6 p.m. with an opening ceremony that will include remarks by local veterans, various local elected officials, dignitaries and military commanders from Fairchild Air Force Base.

The main event is Saturday at noon, and will include a flyover by Fairchild Air Force Base KC-135 refueling tankers followed by remarks and speeches by various veterans and dignitaries.

A closing ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday that will conclude The Moving Walls visit.

On-site services

While no commercial vendors will be available, there will be several veterans service support organizations on-site, including:

• The Vet Services of Spokane Mobile Unit will provide 24/7 counseling and resource services.

• The Paralyzed Vets of America, a congressionally chartered veterans group with expertise on issues related to the special needs of paralyzed veterans.

• Ladies and Gentlemen of the Washington State Veterans Cemetery, a local volunteer group who provide state representation to the next of kin of military members.

• The Veterans of Foreign Wars, a veteran advocacy group.

• The American Legion, a congressionally chartered veterans service organization.

• A Visitors Center & Heroes Tent will provide computer access to assist in finding names on the wall, educational materials and displays, and rubbing paper and crayons.

Escorts will be available from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. to assist in finding names on the Wall and to answer any visitor questions.

Medical services will be provided by the Medical Lake and Spokane County District 3 fire departments.

Getting there and parking

Parking is available at a variety of locations. The front and back lots, and the bus lot of Medical Lake Middle school at 1010 East Lake Street will offer the closest parking.

Overflow parking is also available at St. Anne’s Catholic Church at 708 East Lake St.

Spokane Transit Authority offers hourly bus service to and from the Wall via the Route 62 bus. Visitors can park at the STA West Plains Transit Center located just off Interstate 90 at the Medical Lake interchange, exit 272 and ride the bus to the site to avoid parking issues.


Cooper said the event turned out to be “bigger than expected, and more rewarding than imagined,” noting that she was “humbled by the many war veterans we have met along the way.”

The father of Cooper and her sister, Gerri Johnson, the current president of Re*Imagine Medical Lake, was a career Air Force veteran who served two tours in Vietnam in helicopter air rescue and maintenance.

“When he came back it was more than difficult,” Cooper said. “He just couldn’t connect with us.”

Their father died in 2017. His passing became the catalyst for bringing The Moving Wall to Medical Lake.

The effort isn’t an easy one — or cheap. The cost alone is $44,000, which has been covered by cash and in-kind donations from various businesses. (Disclosure: The Cheney Free Press is an in-kind donor). The group has raised 73 percent of the total to date, according to the Re*Imagine Medical Lake website.

They continue to accept donations, which can be made in a variety of ways. For more information go to http://www.medicallake.org/vmall/.

Local community individuals, veteran’s organizations, government and private partners also provided support for event.

The Moving Wall is a mobile memorial originally conceived by John Devitt, a former Army helicopter door gunner during the war. It’s transported in two pieces.

The original wall was designed by Maya Lin, an architect, designer and artist, who won a design contest for the monument’s design. It now sits on a two-acre site in Washington D.C. The monument and it’s landscaping was completed in 1982. Two lessor known components of the Vietnam Memorial include a statue and a flagpole.

There are currently 58,282 service member names engraved on the Wall’s 70 granite panels. Approximately 1,200 of those are listed as missing in action. The number continues to grow as more lost combatants are recovered.

In all, 2.7 million men and women served within the designated war zone during the nearly 20-year-long Vietnam War.

Lee Hughes can be reached at lee@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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