Wall location becomes piece of sacred ground
By Ronald MacArthur
Ed Rollins of Seaford approached The Moving Wall in Seaford early on Tuesday morning, and then backed off. “I have some friends up on that wall,” he said. “I have never been able to bring myself to go to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. This is the first time I’ve been able to get this close.”
He said that he took his father to Washington, D.C. to see the World War II Memorial a few weeks ago and had plans to make his first visit to the Vietnam Memorial. “But I couldn’t do it,” he said.
“This is almost overwhelming,” he said as he looked at the wall with the sun peaking over the edges. The dew was beginning to dry and the reflections of those viewing the wall began to come into focus on the wall’s shiny black surface.
Then Rollins walked away and took his turn reading the names on the wall. During the week all of the names will be read by volunteers.
Seaford Mayor Dan Short said that this is what the experience of The Moving Wall is all about.
“It’s not a thing of mass,” he said. “It’s a personal thing.”
The Moving Wall opened to the public at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Organizers said that some people showed up Monday night.
The Moving Wall, located in a landscaped area in the Seaford Sports Complex and Ross Business Park north of Virginia Avenue, will be on display 24 hours a day until Saturday, Sept. 19. It will be available for view a few hours on Sunday and will be packed away around noon.
There is no charge. Volunteers are available to assist people and refreshments are also available.
The Moving Wall was escorted into Seaford on Sunday by nearly 2,000 motorcycles down U.S. 13 from Dover.
“It was an emotional thing to experience,” Short said.
Several police agencies led the procession and a state police helicopter did a flyover during the procession.
The welcoming ceremony, led by Short, included music from the Seaford High School Band and the Delaware State Police Bagpipe Corps.
Many volunteers have donated time and materials to construct the wall. Members of VFW Post 8276 donated and built the wooden foundation for the wall.
During the week there will be military equipment displays on site, volunteers to assist people with locating names on the wall, and a History Channel series on the Vietnam War will be shown continuously in a tent on site.
There are several special events planned in conjunction with the week.
The Rev. John Steer will be on hand Sept. 16 to speak with civic and school groups who make reservations ahead of time.
The Last Patrol will perform a reenactment Sept. 16, 17, 18 two times - one at dusk and another to be posted at the site.
Thursday, Sept. 16
6 p.m. - Gold Star Mothers ceremony (mothers who have lost a child in conflict)
Friday, Sept. 17
6 p.m. - Vietnam Veterans of America flag folding ceremony
Saturday, Sept. 18
7 p.m. - Capt. Gerald Coffee, POW for seven years
Sunday, Sept. 19
5 p.m. - Salisbury Community Band patriotic songs
Monday, Sept. 20
Noon - Wall takedown for its next destination - Oak Ridge, N.J.
Capt. Gerald Coffee
Capt. Gerald Coffee was a POW in Vietnam for seven years, being held captive in the infamous Hanoi Hilton POW camp. He was shot down in early 1966 over North Vietnam while flying a combat mission from the USS Kitty Hawk in the Tonkin Gulf. He was among the first group of repatriated POWs on Feb. 12, 1973.
Since his return he has received a masters degree in political science, graduated from the National War College and commanded his own squadron at Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii. He currently serves as a public affairs officer on the staff of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
He has shared his message of positive lessons to hundreds of thousands of people and has written a book, “Beyond Survival: Building on Hard Times.” His message centers on the fact that people are capable of much more than they give themselves credit for. He has received many military and humanitarian awards.
The Rev. John Steer
The Rev. John Steer was severely wounded in the battle of Hill 875 in November, 1967. After lying wounded for two days under dead bodies, he was finally rescued and flown to a hospital where surgeons operated on him for five hours. He lost his right arm and one leg was damaged badly.
He spent nearly two years in various hospitals and spent another five years battling alcohol and drug abuse, fear, and guilt. Since 1980 he and his wife Donna have traveled throughout the United States and 27 countries preaching. The couple was awarded a Presidential Point of Light by President Bush for their work with veterans. He is national chaplain for VietNow and is director of Living Word Christian Ministries.
He spent 17 days ministering to thousands of victims and family members in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He is also an accomplished singer, song writer, speaker and author.
The Last Patrol
The Last Patrol is a group of Vietnam veterans from the Suncoast Vietnam Veterans Association from the Tampa Bay, Fla, area. The group performs reenactments at selected veterans events out of respect “for their bothers and sisters who did not make it home from distant lands.”
Wall facts and figures
Remembrance items - Items left in remembrance at The Moving Wall are collected and stored at a warehouse in San Jose, Calif., The site will be transformed into a par which will eventually serve as the permanent home of The Moving Wall.
History - The original Moving Wall was not intended to be “moving” at all. Three California Vietnam veterans, John Devitt, Gerry Havner and Norris Shears, built a replica Vietnam Veterans Memorial for people on the West Coast who may not get the chance to visit Washington, D.C.
The reception for The Wall was so impressive that the trio decided to take it on the road. A two-week construction project ended up taking two years. The first stop for The Moving Wall was in Tyler, Texas on Oct. 15, 1984. Since that time it was visited every state. This October will mark the 20th anniversary. The Wall contains 58,225 names (eight are female nurses) dating from 1956-1975.
More information - Contact Benet McCormick at 1-410-629-1599 or the website at www.theseafordmovingwall.com.
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