A three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is on its way to McHenry Township Park for display May 24, through Memorial Day, May 28.
Accompanied by a mobile education center, The Wall That Heals will be open to veterans, their families and the general public, said McHenry Township Supervisor Craig Adams and volunteer coordinator Marsha Nelson.
“It’s very difficult to get this display for Memorial Day weekend,” Adams said. “You have to apply and they have to select you.”
The park’s proximity to Chicago and Milwaukee helped to land the display. Between 10,000 and 20,000 visitors are expected over the exhibit period. Visitors may view the wall 24 hours a day between May 24 and 28, closing at 3 p.m. Memorial Day. McHenry Township Park is just north of the township offices at 3703 N. Richmond Road, Johnsburg.
Events throughout the display’s appearance will include an arrival with escort at 11 a.m. May 23, followed by setup, volunteer training and a soft opening. Morning ceremonies will take place at 9 a.m. May 24 and 26, with school visits expected at 10 a.m. May 24 and 25. A “Taps” ceremony will be performed at 7 p.m. May 24-27.
The May 27 activities are set to begin at 10 a.m., and include a blessing of the wall, school choral performances, speeches by local municipal and veterans’ group dignitaries and a special guest address by Capt. James A. Lovell, a U.S. Navy veteran and astronaut for whom the federal health care center in North Chicago is named.
Adams said he hopes everyone finds the time to pay the recently refurbished wall a visit. He and Nelson applauded the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for making it available.
“We’re fortunate to have this meaningful display here during Memorial Day weekend,” Adams said. “It’s an honor.”
It’s also an excellent opportunity to pay tribute to all who died in active military service in any arena, he said.
“We did not treat our Vietnam veterans very well when they came home,” Adams said. “That was a shame. There’s been a large change in sentiment over the years, and we want to show the Vietnam vets that we’re very appreciative of their service.”