Half-size replica of Vietnam Veterans Memorial arrives in Superior this week
More than 100 Northland residents — representing communities large and small across the region — who died while serving in the Vietnam War are among the more than 58,000 names of Americans listed chronologically on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
And later this week, the half-size replica of the memorial will be in Superior.
The Wall that Heals, a 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile education center, is coming to Barker's Island Festival Park in Superior, hosted by Halvor Lines.
"Being chosen to host is such an honor," said Jon Vinje, CEO of the Superior-based trucking and logistics firm. "Not only does it give our own region a chance to heal and honor the fallen, it also shows our veterans that Halvor is thankful for their sacrifice."
The memorial will arrive Wednesday and will be on display from Thursday through Sunday, open 24 hours a day and free to the public. The wall bears the names of those Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War.
When the replica wall arrives in Superior on Wednesday, the community can line the route to cheer on the Minnesota Patriot Guard and Halvor Lines as they travel with a Superior Police Department escort.
The route will start at Fabco on Moccasin Mike Road before heading north on U.S. Highway 2 and 53 to North Third Street and Tower Avenue, then taking North 28th Street to heading back to the Barker's Island Pavilion. The plan is to line up starting at 9 a.m., and start the procession at about 10 a.m.
The first day of the display, Thursday, will feature several speakers — Superior Mayor and Marine veteran Jim Paine; Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Dan Zimmerman; Douglas County Board Chairman Mark Liebaert; and Vinje — each talking about the significance of the memorial. The ceremony will start at 9 a.m. with Carl Svendsen, chief strategy officer with Halvor Lines, serving as emcee.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most visited memorials in the nation's capital, with more than 5.6 million visitors each year. However, many Americans have not been able to visit what has become known to many as "The Wall."
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the organization that built the memorial in 1982, aims to give all veterans and their family members across the country an opportunity to see the memorial with the traveling Wall that Heals replica.
Like the original memorial wall, it is erected in a chevron shape. The replica is constructed of powder-coated aluminum, supported by an aluminum frame, and is made up of 24 individual panels, each containing six columns of names.
In honor of the wall's stop in Superior, the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in partnership with WDSE-WRPT public television is working to honor and remember the service of Vietnam veterans, according to Bong Center director Hayes Scriven. He said Vietnam veterans are invited to share their memories from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Bong Center, 305 Harbor View Parkway in Superior.
WDSE crews will be available to record Vietnam veterans' memories for a local documentary project; veterans are asked to bring photos and mementos. In addition, the oral histories will be cataloged at the center and a copy given to the family.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, WDSE will preview the upcoming Ken Burns documentary "The Vietnam War," and two Vietnam veterans tell stories from their time in the service. And in partnership with the Douglas County Veterans Service Office, the Bong Center will host a free cookout from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
"We wanted a way to give back" said Brian Erickson, Douglas County veterans service officer.
"With the Wall that Heals coming in, we wanted to give people an opportunity to gather and relax after taking in the Wall," Scriven said. The lunch is free but donations are welcome and will go to support the center and the service office.
The Bong Center is also offering free admission to all veterans from Thursday through Sunday.