By Britton Bloom
As many as 130,000 people from across the Valley flocked to see the “Moving Wall” reproduction of the Vietnam Wall memorial April 19-21 at Green Acres Mortuary in Scottsdale.
The Moving Wall is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C., the most visited monument in the Capitol, containing the names of all 58,196 soldiers killed or missing in the Vietnam conflict.
Mayor Mary Manross was on hand for the opening of the exhibit.
“People should bring their children,” Manross said. “That’s the best thing we can do to honor those on the wall and those who came home safely.”
Veterans and families showed up in the thousands to find the names of lost loved ones or friends and comrades, to run their fingers over the incised names or take a graphite rubbing of the inscription, or simply hoist a child up to see the name of a relative.
“The number of lives touched by the wall this weekend was just phenomenal,” said Diana Cunningham, Green Acres employee and volunteer for the memorial. “I’ve got hundreds of emails that people sent in after they came.”
The memorial itself is the brainchild of Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs, who served in Vietnam in 1969. Scruggs began collecting private donations and lobbying for the memorial, which resulted in President Carter authorizing the creation of the monument in 1980.
Maya Ying Lin, a 21-year-old architecture student, designed the granite memorial to feature the names of those who died or are listed as missing, from the first casualties in July 1959 to the last in May 1975.
The Moving Wall exhibit is the work of another Vietnam veteran, John Devitt, who attended the dedication of the Memorial Wall in 1982 and felt the memorial should be available to people who might not get a chance to visit Washington, D.C.
Devitt’s half-scale reproduction debuted in Tyler, Texas, in 1982, and has visited dozens of cities and communities throughout the nation.