(Update: Added video, volunteer comments)
LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) – Dozens of volunteers showed up early Wednesday morning to help assemble and prepare the Healing Wall, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica and Mobile Education Center, for the public can see it until Sunday.
Plates with the engraved names of over 58,000 men and women who lost their lives in the Vietnam War were made one by one.
The wall was towed through the streets of La Pine on Tuesday afternoon, escorted by hundreds of motorcyclists, classic cars and law enforcement, as spectators waving American flags applauded the long-awaited arrival .
The wall is a three-quarter replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, and measures 7.5 feet high and 375 feet long for community members to engage.
“We have been working on it for 3 years. We are very proud to welcome him here at La Pine, ”said Michele Hoffman, chair of the committee that helped bring the replica of the memorial to central Oregon.
People all over the state began contacting Hoffman for volunteer opportunities when news broke through the wall as it arrived in central Oregon.
La Pine will be the only stop in Oregon to see the wall.
“It’s a real honor for La Pine to get this. There aren’t many cities in the United States that get this honor, ”said Gordon DeArmnond, a Crescent resident who helped assemble the panels on the wall.
“A lot of people gave their all for us,” added DeArmnond.
Mahkai Meyer, a 14-year-old volunteer, also helped put up signs on the wall.
Meyer plans to enlist in the US Air Force in a few years and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to start serving his community now. He wanted to pay tribute to those who have died after learning that they are sometimes not treated well.
“I realized that the Vietnam War was not very honored like the others and that these more than 53,000 people served and that few people respected them,” Meyer said.
A volunteer putting up signs was able to locate the name of his friend who served in the war.
If you visit the wall, you can also learn about the history of the Vietnam War and have name engravings on the wall.
Hoffman said that although assembly of the wall is now complete, she encourages those who wish to visit to wait until Thursday as volunteers have yet to be trained to provide the educational tours.
A welcoming ceremony will also take place at 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon.