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Twenty-seven years ago, on November 13, 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was dedicated in Washington, D.C. It is centrally located between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Monument on the National Mall. However, not everyone has been able to travel to Washington, DC over those years to view it first-hand.

 

To allow more people the opportunity to see the Memorial Wall, The Moving Wall came into being in 1984. It is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. It travels across the country between April through November and operated by volunteers. It has helped many veterans and their families experience the passion of touching the memorial dedicated to the men and women who died during the long Vietnam War. That personal experience has been brought to many hometowns, big and small, across the nation.

 

The Wall That Heals came about in 1996 to serve as a traveling museum, a way of explaining to America’s citizens, young and old alike, about the Vietnam War and more about the individuals whose names appear on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall.

 

In this computer age, a Virtual Wall of Vietnam Veterans was started in November 1998. By using the Internet the impact of the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall can be experienced around the world. It allows family, friends, fellow vets and strangers to post remembrances for those names inscribed on the Wall.

 

However, many communities have wanted a more personal, hands-on and permanent memorial to those veterans who gave their all during the Vietnam War. Over the years similar Vietnam veteran memorials in other states have been constructed, some with all 58,256 names from across the country and others with just veterans from the state where the additional memorial was being erected.

 

Florida’s Own Vietnam Veterans Memorial

 

In Florida, on October 24, 1992, The Wall South was established in the Florida Panhandle in the city of Pensacola at Veterans Memorial Park. It lists the names of all 58,256 Americans killed or missing in Southeast Asia.

 

Since 1985 there has been Florida’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial constructed. This memorial is located across Monroe Street from the Old Capitol, in Tallahassee. It is two granite columns with the American flag suspended between them. On the columns are engraved the names of 1,942 Vietnam War dead and 83 men listed as missing in action from Florida. Going to Southwest Florida there stands the Vietnam Memorial in Ft. Myers. It lists the names of 76 dead from five surrounding area counties etched into three 9 feet by 8 feet black granite panels.

 

However, the gem of Vietnam veteran memorials in Florida exists at 2200 Veterans Memorial Parkway in Veteran’s Memorial Park in Port St. Lucie, Florida. This city is located on the east coast, just north of West Palm Beach. Due to the unselfish efforts of the members of Vietnam Veterans of America, St. Lucie County Chapter 566, they made it their goal to have a permanent Vietnam memorial wall in their area dedicated to Florida’s fallen veterans. Chapter 566 claimed it was their special way of bringing Florida’s boys back home.

The architectural plans for the Florida Wall were made by local businesses like David Cleveland of Omega Architectural Productions of Fort Pierce. The mining, engraving and placement of the panels were by Real Stone and Granite of Fort Pierce.

 

This 48-foot wall with eight jet-black panels was modeled after the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D. C., and used granite from the same quarry. It had engraved 1,952 names of Florida’s sons serving as a permanent monument to their sacrifice.

 

It was Saturday morning, the 14th of June in 2003 and the newly created Florida Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was dedicated. Hundreds of people from near and far were in attendance along with the U. S. Military Vets Motorcycle members showing their support for their fallen ‘brothers’.

 

No one there that June 14th, Flag Day, will forget the moving speeches presented by several of the mothers, wives and sons of Florida’s fallen soldiers. With the unveiling of the 48 feet long, 4 feet tall at the ends and 6 feet tall at the center wall, the crowd was in awe of its majestic appearance. Just like in Washington, DC, individuals wanted to move their fingertips over the name of loved ones.

 

As has been expressed by many people over the years, “As Long As You Speak Their Names, They Live On”. This is demonstrated all over the United States by the dedicated work by thousands to see that America’s Vietnam veterans are remembered forever.

Published by Southern Utah Vets Aid, St. George, Uta

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