PINETOP-LAKESIDE — The Wall That Heals, a 375-foot long replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, will arrive in Show Low on Tuesday, Oct. 26 with Mountain Meadow Recreation Complex (MMRC) on Woodland Road as its final destination until the end of the month.

The Escort and Arrival Ceremony will begin at 2 p.m at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stake Center in Show Low. The semi truck which carries The Wall will be escorted to its final destination by the American Legion Riders Post 86 of Overgaard, a military tribute motorcycle group of around 50 motorcyclists led by Michael Murphy, along with area police and four military jeeps.

Pinetop-Lakeside Community Services Manager Tony Alba said they encourage community members to line the streets between Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside (PTLS) to show support for the arrival of The Wall which, following the laborious set-up procedure by volunteers, will be open to the public 24-hours a day until it closes on Oct. 31.

Once The Wall arrives at MMRC, there will be a short Arrival Ceremony. The speakers will be PTLS Mayor Stephanie Irwin and Tim Tetz, site manager from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), the nonprofit organization that was authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1980 to build a national memorial dedicated to all who served with the U.S. Armed Forces in the Vietnam War.

On Wednesday morning, Oct. 27 at 8:30 a.m., volunteers will begin setting up The Wall which is expected to be completed around 4 p.m. The Wall is constructed of Avonite, a synthetic granite. The 140 panels which carry the names of over 58,000 service members are supported by an aluminum frame. Each panel weights close to 100 pounds.

Once the 53-foot trailer that carries The Wall is emptied of all the panels, it is converted into a mobile Education Center. It displays history, memorabilia and photos that relate to The Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The Wall will be open to the public beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28 until it closes at 2 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Visitors who find their family member or friend’s name can do name rubbings from The Wall just like they are able to do at the memorial in Washington. LED lighting provides readability regardless of what time of day or night a person visits The Wall.

Each day at 5:15 p.m. local resident Dana Small will play Taps, the official call to remember those who gave their lives in the service of the United States.

The PTLS Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2364 will hold a ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 1 p.m. to thank the Vietnam War Era Veterans and family members of deceased veterans for their service. During the ceremony they will distribute lapel pins to veterans and surviving spouses of deceased veterans.

On Sunday, Oct. 31 there will be a brief closing ceremony at 1:30 p.m. with Small once again playing Taps. The Wall will close at 2 p.m.

Alba said the extended weather forecast Tuesday through Sunday calls for daytime highs in the 50s and lows around 30 degrees.

It takes a large number of volunteers to staff The Wall. Many have signed up for four or six hour shifts but there are also two overnight shifts from midnight to 8 a.m. Set up and breakdown are manual labor type volunteer positions but there are also other attendant type positions still available. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up online at www.PLTWTH.com.

The quest to bring The Wall to PTLS began just a little over two years ago when Town Manager Keith Johnson asked Alba to look into bringing it here. Alba located the application online and filled it out, not really expecting them to select a small community like PTLS. He said he received a call from VVMF and he answered the questions they asked. He was surprised when he received notification from them that PTLS was on the final selection list.

Alba said the town budgeted $35,000 for the cost of The Wall but their goal was to raise $25,000 from outside the town. Irwin was the fundraising chair and she put in the first $2,500. The City of Show Low and Navajo County joined in at the same rate and the American Legion Post 86 donated $3,000. Then donations in various amounts from $2,000 on down came in. PTLS exceeded their goal and actually collected $27,300.

In addition to monies donated, El Rancho, Darbi’s, Crockery Cafe, The Chalet, Mr. Zeke’s and Moose Henri’s are providing food for the volunteers.

“We are very much excited,” said Alba. “It has been rewarding and humbling to see our town and the whole region get behind it. It is not just a PTLS event; it is a regional event.”

The mission of The Wall is “to honor and preserve the legacy of service and educate all generations about the impact of the Vietnam War.” Their vision is “to ensure a society in which all who have served and sacrificed in our nation’s Armed Forces are properly honored and receive the recognition they justly deserve.”

One veteran who promoted The Wall on a VVMF video clip said, “You can hate the war, but not the warrior.”

VVMF says that The Wall “honors more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in the Vietnam War.”

The Wall, which began its 2021 tour in April, scheduled 28 locations. Bullhead City is the only other Arizona city selected this year. There are two stops left after PTLS which means PTLS was 26 of 28 selected.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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