Hundreds filtered in and out of McHenry Township Park in Johnsburg on Sunday to honor fallen Vietnam War soldiers with a visit to The Wall That Heals.
The memorial is a traveling exhibit put on by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund that features a three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. An education center on-site contains video exhibits and artifacts from the Washington, D.C., wall and the war era.
A digital kiosk where visitors can search for names, a “Hometown Heroes” display that shows local service members on the wall, a map of Vietnam, paper directories and other exhibits are available in the education center.
The exhibit has been displayed in about 600 communities throughout the nation. The wall itself is 375 feet long and 7½ feet high at its tallest point.
It takes about 25 people between six and eight hours to set up and tear down the exhibit, said Callie Wright, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site manager.
The site was fairly busy since the wall opened in the park Thursday, Wright said.
“This has been awesome,” she said. “We are thrilled with the amount of people that are coming out.”
Wright said the goals of the exhibit are multifaceted, but remembrance of those who died is key.
“I hope [visitors] take away, for one, a chance to come out and honor and remember all of the people who are on this wall, “ Wright said. “The Wall That Heals – when it goes out on the road – is meant to be a chance for people to have the healing experience like they might get at D.C. if they aren’t able to get to D.C.”
Lynn Zwiener and Bill McAvoy of Wonder Lake had chance to visit the memorial Sunday afternoon.
McAvoy’s mother’s cousin, Charles “Chuck” Slager, is listed on the wall. McAvoy didn’t know the man well, but he said he still wanted the opportunity to see his name.
Zwiener said that she was moved by the various exhibits in the education center.
“Reading those stories, seeing things like the care packages – it made me tear up,” she said. “And seeing how those veterans were treated then versus how they are treated now – it’s very sad.”
McHenry County-area service members on the wall are Terry Edward O’Brien of Barrington Hills, Walter Brenneman Grove Jr. of Cary, Lawrence Thomas Meyers of Cary, Richard A. Rowell of Cary, James William Ambrose of Crystal Lake, Buddy Eugene Henderlight of Crystal Lake, Samuel P. Chambers III of Crystal Lake, Terry Joe Kenny of Crystal Lake, James David Hacek of Crystal Lake, Lester Erwin Becker of Harvard, Gary Robert Kieselburg of Harvard, Harry Walker Braun Jr. of Hebron, Gary Donald Price of Hebron, Lawrence James Wissell of Hebron, John Merrill Harden of Island Lake, Steve Henry Gerlach of Marengo, Ronald Dale Westphal of Marengo, James Howard Graff of Marengo, Robert Lyndon Gray of Marengo, Glenn Phillip Davis of McHenry, Carter John Freund of McHenry, John Edward Granath Jr. of McHenry, Richard John Behrns of Spring Grove, Daniel Arnold May of Spring Grove, William H. Borchart of Union, Randall Eugene Maggio of Wonder Lake, Donald Eugene Dermont Jr. of Woodstock, Toby Edward Jaeckels of Woodstock, Sidney John Elyea of Woodstock, Dennis Earl Jahn of Woodstock and Gordon Manson Gaylord of Woodstock.