Photo courtesy Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund's Facebook page

Vietnam Wall’s route to be announced in December

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

Arrangements are coming together to bring the The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica to Allegan. Now people are just keeping their fingers crossed that Allegan is on the route chosen for the 2018 tour.

“We’ve got more than 100 applicants and only 38 spots,” said The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica program manager Cynthia Long. “We’ll be choosing the route in mid-November but won’t announce it to communities until December.”

Allegan resident and Vietnam veteran Mike Andrus announced in August his efforts to bring “The Wall That Heals” to his hometown. Between donations he’s already collected and those given to an account set up at Allegan City Hall, he is prepared for the down payment to reserve the exhibit if Allegan is selected.

Many factors play into the communities chosen to exhibit the half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and mobile education center.

Some of those factors include if the exhibit has been in the area recently (it was in Grand Rapids in September), what the weather will be like and whether the town is in the proximity of the itinerary.

“If it doesn’t work out this year, we’ll reapply for 2019,” said Andrus. “We’ll get it here sooner or later.”

Altogether, the cost of bringing The Wall to Allegan is $8,000, and at least 100 volunteers are needed to host the exhibition for 24-hours a day for four days.

“We ask that volunteers staff The Wall on a 24-hour basis to replicate the experience of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C, which is open to the public 24-hours a day,” said Long. “Volunteers explain how to look for names on The Wall.”

The Wall has 58,315 names listed by day of casualty. 

Andrus said many veteran organizations and the Boy Scouts have expressed their interest in offering support.

“The Boy Scouts will be great because we need young people who know how to use the app downloaded to locate names on The Wall,” he said.

Andrus said the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Allegan will host a fundraiser for the exhibition once Allegan is selected and Brady Street would be the location for its access to Mahan Park, Riverfront Plaza and the Welcome Center.

Those who were from Allegan County would be highlighted in the mobile education center that accompanies The Wall. A map of Vietnam and a chronological overview of the conflict in Vietnam along with some of the letters and memorabilia left at The Wall in Washington, D.C. are part of the exhibit, helping to put American experiences in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context.

“It’s a very moving experience,” Andrus said.

For more information about The Wall, visit www.vvmf.org/thewall.

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at vransbottom@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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