A smaller scale, traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. is making a stop in Iowa. The exhibit will be open to the public, free of charge, today through Sunday in West Des Moines. Cheryl TanCreti, spokesperson for The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, says it will be on display at Resthaven Cemetery 801 19th St. in West Des Moines.
The opening ceremony at 11:10 this morning will feature a fly-over by the 132nd Fighter Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard. The hour-long ceremony will also include music from the Mackenzie Highlander bagpipes and drums and comments from Governor Terry Branstad and Congressman Leonard Boswell.
Following the ceremony, there will be a reading of all 58,000 names of the servicemen and women who died or went missing in Vietnam. The readings will take place every 30 minutes and be conducted by 100 volunteers until the last names are read. Today is POW/MIA Recognition Day.
The Dignity Memorial Wall, which is eight-feet high and 240-feet long, will be lit at night and guarded 24-hours a day, similar to the actual wall in Washington. TanCreti says Saturday’s events will include a “salute to fallen heroes” by the Five Star Freedom Rider Team, beginning at 11 a.m. A closing ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
“That is going to be when we will bury all the memorabilia that is left behind at the wall. A lot of people will leave flowers…we’ll have a little ceremony and bury the vault with all the memorabilia,” TanCreti said. Sunday’s ceremony will include a 21 gun salute and the playing of Taps. From Iowa, the Dignity Wall moves on to Louisiana. To date, the replica has traveled to more than 200 cities across the country.
For more information, visit: www.dignitymemorial.com
By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic