Marco Island to be only Florida city in 2020 to host the Vietnam traveling memorial wall

Marco Island will be the only Florida city to host the Vietnam traveling memorial wall, according to Lee Rubenstein, local commander of the American Legion Post. In the picture, Rubenstein speaks to council on Nov. 4.

Marco Island will be the only Florida city in 2020 to host The Wall That Heals, according to a news release from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF).

The 25th season of the exhibit will begin on Marco Island on Feb. 20 and will include a three-quarter scale replica of the memorial along with a mobile education center.

The American Legion Post 404 is leading the effort that will bring the exhibit to Marco.

"American Legion Post #404 is honored to bring The Wall That Heals to Marco Island for its third visit," Commander Lee Rubenstein wrote in a separate news release. "Everyone will want to experience the new Wall which is 40% larger than the Wall it replaces."

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many veterans to share the special bond that exists between those who served and sacrificed.” 

Rubenstein gave the big announcement during Monday's City Council meeting.

"Are we special or are we special?" Rubenstein said. "I felt it was important to come and tell council just how important Marco Island has become."

The American Legion Post 404 is leading the effort that will bring the The Wall That Heals exhibit to Marco Island. From left to right, WWII veteran John Basic, Vietnam era veteran John Aplozan, Korean War veteran Bill Horton and Gulf War veteran Yvette Bennaroch attended the city council meeting on Nov. 4.

The traveling exhibit honors the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in the Vietnam War and it bears the names of the 58,276 men and women who died, according to VVMF.

"The Wall That Heals mobile exhibit replicates The Wall experience in Washington, D.C. and provides veterans and their family members the chance to experience (it) in their own community,” Jim Knotts, president and CEO of VVMF, wrote in the news release. 

“Hosting the exhibit provides the opportunity to honor and remember those who have served and sacrificed and offers an educational experience for visitors on the impact of the Vietnam War on America.”

The exhibit will run through Feb. 23, and will be open 24 hours a day and free to the public, according to Rubenstein. 

Marco Island is one of 35 communities chosen to host this exhibit out of 116 applicants, according to VVMF.

More than 200 volunteers will be needed to set up and take down the replica wall, staff the exhibit and guide visitors 24 hours a day, according to Rubenstein. Fifty additional volunteers are needed to publicly read 1,954 names of Floridians who died serving in Vietnam. 

Volunteers can contact Ray Rosenberg at 239-877-4206.

In August, the Eagle reported City Council voted unanimously in favor of the American Legion Post hosting the wall at Veterans' Community Park.

The last time the wall was in Marco Island was in 2015 and it was first brought to the island in 2011.

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