Residents urged to salute Vietnam War 'healing wall'
TuesdayJul 24, 2018 at 5:51 PM Jul 24, 2018 at 7:46 PM
The end of American involvement in the Vietnam War is symbolized by an iconic photo of the U.S. embassy in Saigon being evacuated in April 1975, but many veterans have yet to find healing from a conflict that divided the nation, says Barbara Hughes, coordinator for South Shore Friends of The Wall That Heals.
"I have talked to so many of them," she said. "They were spit on when they came home. They were called baby killers. One veteran I talked with said when he came home his girlfriend met him at the airport where he was wearing his uniform. The girlfriend told him to change his uniform because it would not be good. Some veterans have had tears in their eyes while I talked with them."
Hughes said "The Wall That Heals," which is a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., will be displayed at Union Point from Thursday to Sunday.
"It is 375 feet long and it is a brand new wall," she said. "The D.C. wall is 500 feet long and the wall we had was once 250 feet long but they made it a bigger one and with names engraved on it. It is chevron shaped like the wall in D.C. The new wall is constructed of avonite, a synthetic. It has 140 numbered panels that are supported by an aluminum frame."
Abington Veterans Agent Thomas McCarthy, a Marine veteran, said he was spat on by some people in a bus station near Camp Pendleton after graduating from boot camp in 1977. The war had ended two years earlier.
"Anybody who puts the uniform on deserves respect," he said. "The majority of soldiers who served in Vietnam were drafted. They did not go on their own free will."
McCarthy said he makes it a point to shake hands with Vietnam veterans that come into his office seeking a ssistance.
"I welcome them home and I usually get a good response for saying it," he said.
Hughes said the healing wall will be transported to a former jet runway at Union Point in a tractor trailer truck with up to 200 motorcycles escorting the vehicle from the Irish Cultural Center in Canton at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
"We will travel through different South Shore Towns," she said. "When it comes to Union Point we will take it apart panel by panel. It takes six to eight hours to setup. We have union groups that will help out with that."
Hughes said people are encouraged to stand along the procession route and wave flags in support of The Wall That Heals.
The procession route will proceed through Canton, Stoughton, Avon, Randolph and Braintree before arriving at Union Point at the Delahunt Parkway entrance in Rockland.
McCarthy said he hopes to see people lining the streets waving flags as the truck bearing the healing wa ll proceeds to Union Point.
"It has been a wonderful project to be involved with," he said. "We have put in a lot of hours. There will be National Grid folks that are on strike who will be holding flags instead of walking the picket line. The folks at Union Point have been supportive as well."
McCarthy said Marshfield based radio station WATD 95.9 FM will broadcast from the healing wall at various times while the monument is on display.
"Public access TV will be there along with Weymouth access TV," he said.
McCarthy said there could be a drone taking aerial photos of the healing wall during the procession.
Hughes said a brief ceremony will be held at the wall 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"We will have a more formal ceremony Thursday at 9 a.m.," she said.
McCarthy said the speakers at the ceremony will include retired Army generals along with state and local officials.
"We will be issuing fiftieth anniversary service pins to Vietnam veterans who have not received their pins," he said. "That should be interesting."
Hughes said the healing wall would be illuminated with LED soft lighting during evening hours for veterans who wish to visit the site when activity is quieter.
"There are a lot of veterans that donât want to come during the day because of the commotion of a lot of people being there," she said. "We donât put spotlights on it. It is a somber setup."
Hughes said a 53-foot museum trailer will be placed near the wall for visitors to learn about the history of the Vietnam War.
"There will be timeline of the war and additional information about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington," she said.
Weymouth Veterans Services Director George Pontes said he has received a lot of positive responses from veterans about the wall display.
"They are looking forward to go to the wall a nd reflect," he said.
Hughes said some veterans are battling PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and poisoning caused by Agent Orange, a defoliant sprayed on jungle foliage during the war by American planes to make it easier for troops to locate enemy combatants.
"There will an honor roll of people who have died since returning from Vietnam from the effects of Agent Orange," she said. "We donât want anybody to be forgotten. My uncle served in Vietnam."
She said people will be able to download a mobile app on their cell phones to locate the name of a veteran they know who is listed on the healing wall.
"There are 58,318 names on the wall and eight of them are women," she said. "There are 31 sets of brothers listed on the wall."
Hughes said there will be support services at the healing wall for veterans in need of assistance.
"We will have different groups that specialize in helping veterans,&qu ot; she said.
McCarthy said some Vietnam veterans have flashbacks of their recollections of the war upon retiring.
"One of the biggest things I find is, as they retire, they have so much time on their hands," he said. "They have flashbacks and PTSD. That has been surprising."
McCarthy said a lot of research is being done into Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome by Boston area hospitals and the studies will benefit veterans assistance groups in Massachusetts.
"We have the best of the best in Massachusetts," he said. "We are lucky we can give the best possible care. We have people who moved to Massachusetts for veteransâ assistance programs. "
Reach Ed Baker at email@example.com.Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam