Hundreds of volunteers needed for Vietnam veterans memorial wall exhibit on Marco Island
Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Ray Rosenburg, volunteer coordinator.
The Wall That Heals, a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will make the first stop of its 2020 national tour in Marco Island on Feb. 18.
Hundreds of volunteers will be needed to set up and take down the wall, staff the exhibit and guide visitors 24-hours a day, according to a news release.
Fifty additional volunteers will publicly read the names of thousands of Floridians who died during the Vietnam War.
"I only have one vacant time slot out of almost 270 time slots," Ray Rosenburg, volunteer coordinator, wrote to the Eagle on Jan. 31. "I also have 30 volunteers in reserve in case others drop out."
At 11 a.m., Feb. 18, hundreds of motorcyclists are expected to escort the wall from I-75's rest area on exit 131, arriving at 12:30 p.m. at Veterans' Community Park in Marco Island, according to organizers.
The set up will start at 8:30 a.m., Feb. 19 and it will open to the public a minute after midnight on Feb. 20.
A welcome ceremony will take place at noon on the same day and an honor's ceremony will start at 10 a.m., Feb. 22.
On Feb. 23, a closing ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. followed by taking down the wall starting at 2 p.m.
On Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) unveiled the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout U.S., according to the wall's website.
Since its dedication, it has been displayed at nearly 600 communities throughout the nation.
The wall honors 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 made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
The replica is 375 feet in length and stands 7.5 feet high at its tallest point.
“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is pleased to bring The Wall That Heals mobile exhibit to Marco Island to allow local veterans and their family members a chance to experience The Wall and honor and remember those who have served and sacrificed,” Jim Knotts, president and CEO of VVMF, wrote in the news release.
“Hosting The Wall That Heals provides an opportunity for healing and an educational experience for visitors on the impact of the Vietnam War on America.”
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," wrote Lee Rubenstein, American Legion Post commander.
"We have the privilege of being the very first city visited by The Wall in the 2020 national tour plus we are the only city in Florida to have The Wall That Heals this year."
"Everyone will want to experience the new Wall which is 40% larger than the Wall it will be replacing," Rubenstein wrote. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many veterans to share the special bond that exists between those who served and sacrificed.”
The wall exhibit includes a 53-foot trailer which transforms to become a mobile education center. The exterior of the trailer features a timeline of 'The War and The Wall' and provides additional information about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
For more information about The Wall That Heals visit vvmf.org/The-Wall-That-Heals.