Replica of Vietnam Veterans Memorial makes a stop in Ocean Pines
OCEAN PINES, Md. – A three quarter scale of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. is making an appearance in Ocean Pines. “We’re very, very fortunate because the wall generally does not travel in the state of Maryland, since we have such easy access to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” said President of the Worcester County Memorial Foundation Marie Gilmore.
It’s called the Wall That Heals, and organizers say they hope veterans and their friends and family will come visit. “That gives us an incredible opportunity to honor all of the hometown heroes from all of the counties on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware,” said Gilmore.
Organizers say about 300 volunteers will be interacting with visitors. Wednesday, those volunteers were trained on how to interact with veterans, and how to handle the emotions that come along with visiting the wall. “A lot of the veterans who come will be seeing the names of comrades that they served with in Vietnam who didn’t make it home. A returning always has mixed emotions. They’re happy to be home, but they wonder why me?” said Gilmore.
Gilmore says visiting the wall is a chance for veterans to reflect on their experiences and come together to heal. “When they see the names on the wall it’s a very moving experience for them, and it can be a very healing experience to be able to touch the wall and feel the engraving on the wall,” said Gilmore.
Thursday there will be a welcome home opening ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday night, there will be a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. All are welcome to visit the wall and join in on the ceremonies. Gilmore says Vietnam veterans never got the welcome home they deserve. So, she says, this is an opportunity to thank them for their service. “Vietnam is probably the only war that soldiers came home from, and were spat upon at the airport, called names, they were told no to wear their uniforms when they got off the plane. They were told to change into civilian clothes to avoid that, and it’s a shame,” said Gilmore.