Vietnam Memorial replica visits Johnson City
by James Howell
The American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT) will display a replica of the Vietnam Memorial at the University Parkway Baptist Church in Johnson City, Tenn., from Monday, Sept. 10 through Saturday, Sept. 15.
Haley Lingerfelt, co-chairperson for the event, said, “It’s going to be wonderful. Invite everyone, especially veterans and first responders. They’ve done so much for us, and this is our chance to give back.”
The traveling wall is an 80 percent replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. The wall will include the names of everyone who died in Vietnam, and it will have facts and figures from the Vietnam War.
The wall will also include graphics and pictures to honor the veterans of American wars spanning back to World War II. Plus, the wall will honor all first responders who have died, and all those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. To make it easier for guests to locate names on the wall, the AVTT is providing a digital database and books to guests.
Lingerfelt said, “Many people will never be able to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., so this is a good opportunity for locals to sample that experience.”
Angela Reagan, the Veterans Service officer for Ashe County, agreed, saying, “It’s a great experience for veterans and their families. The wall travels quite often, so if a person can’t see it in Johnson City, it will make another appearance around here in the future.”
Ralph Poe, commander of DAV Chapter 80 in Ashe, said he has already seen the traveling wall in Cherokee and was moved by it. During the DAV meeting on Monday, Poe plans to mention the wall to his fellow veterans.
According to Lingerfelt, there will be several events taking place during the traveling tribute. For instance, a motorcycle escort will help deliver the replica wall to the University Parkway Baptist Church on Monday, Sept. 10.
At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, there will be several distinguished speakers, including John Abe Teague, liaison to Congressman Phil Roe, and Bob Ousley, the former state director of Rolling Thunder.
On Wednesday, Sept. 12, there will be a K-9 demonstration at 4 p.m. and a roll call for soldiers missing in action at 7:30 p.m. There will be several other events during the week.
Schools will also become heavily involved with this event. A projection made on Aug. 23 by Lingerfelt estimated 1,230 students will attend the tribute on Friday, Sept. 14. This number may have grown since Lingerfelt’s projection.
The tribute will be held at the University Parkway Baptist Church at 219 University Parkway, Johnson City, Tenn. The event is sponsored by the Tennessee branch of Rolling Thunder, and it will be free for anyone who wants to attend.
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