A 250-foot-long replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., will visit Newton for a second time in less than a year next week.
Doug Bishop, one of the organizers of the display’s Newton visit, said the Wall That Heals will be on display Wednesday, May 1, through Saturday, May 4, at Maytag Park. More than 50 people — the vast majority of which are veterans — have volunteered in support of the event.
Volunteers will assist visitors in locating names on the wall, as well as with providing access to and from the wall for visitors with mobility issues. Additionally, volunteers will assist with setting up and taking down the display.
“We also raised a little more than $6,000, primarily from local vets, to make this happen,” Bishop said. “I’ve been overwhelmed by the support shown by the community.”
The Wall That Heals exhibition features a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is approximately 250 feet in length and, like the original Memorial, is erected in a chevron-shape.
The trailer hauling the traveling display is scheduled to arrive late afternoon Tuesday, April 30, at the Jasper County Fairgrounds in Colfax. From there, beginning at 6 p.m., a motorcycle escort of members of the Patriot Guard and American Legion Riders, led by Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty, will proceed with the trailer along county blacktop F48 — formerly U.S. Highway 6 — to Maytag Park.
Any local riders who would like to join the escort are encouraged to meet at the Jasper County Fairgrounds prior to 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“Our hope is that people who live along the procession route, and those who just want to come and show their support for our veterans and military members, will come out wave flags or just show their support,” Bishop said. “The Newton Fire Department will fly a flag from its ladder truck at First Avenue and West Fourth Street as we turn toward Maytag Park.”
Once the trailer arrives, a brief ceremony will be held. Upon its arrival, from sunrise to sunset each day, the Wall That Heals will be guarded by volunteer Jasper County Vietnam Veterans. The display is scheduled to be constructed, beginning at 11 a.m., by a group of Newton Senior High School students as part of Red Pride Service Day.
A ceremony honoring local veterans — and Vietnam veterans in particular — will be held 6 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at the Wall That Heals. Following the ceremony, the public is invited to the Newton Post 111 American Legion, where a meal with hamburgers and bratwurst will be served for a free-will donation; veterans will be offered free drinks.
The Newton Legionnaires will host a pork barbecue dinner at Post 111 Friday night. Tickets will cost $8 in advance, or $9 at the door, with all proceeds funding Legion activities in Newton. Contact any Newton Legionnaire or Amy Delk at (641) 275-1047 for more information.
There will be a free dance at Post 111 beginning at 8 p.m. that evening, as well. Jerry Chandler has volunteered his karaoke system to provide the entertainment.
Bishop said the highest volume of traffic to see the Wall That Heals will likely be Saturday, the last day it is displayed. He said a number of veterans groups from throughout Iowa have indicated plans to bring large contingents of veterans to Maytag Park to view the memorial.
He also noted the emotional impact seeing the Wall can have for some veterans. Counselors will be available in a specially equipped RV at the park for veterans who need their services.
“I hope people from Jasper County and the surrounding area will take the time to pay their respects to the 58,000 who didn’t make it home,” Bishop said. “Jasper County has done a tremendous job supporting vets. Between this event, and the Freedom Flight later in the month, May is going to bring that level of support to a whole new level.”
Daily News Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.