Vietnam Moving Wall on display at Thatcher Park

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Visitors to the Vietnam Moving Wall can make rubbings of the names. The exhibit is open through Monday, June 14.

By Jon Johnson

THATCHER – The Moving Wall is on display at the H. Lyle Grant Thatcher Park from Thursday, June 10 through Monday, June 14.  

The wall is a 1/2 size scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., stands over seven feet tall at the center, and is roughly 375 feet long. The synthetic granite wall displays the names of 58,318 service members who died during the Vietnam War, including 1,600 who are still missing and eight women. It is one of two replica traveling memorial walls.

Jon Johnson Video/Gila Herald

Volunteers man the wall 24 hours a day and offer assistance with information and finding names. Each panel is numbered, and those who visit are encouraged to take a piece of paper and pencil to make a rubbing of a section.   

One of the volunteers, Dennis Blessman, of California, served in the Air Force during Vietnam and was stationed about 20 miles northeast of Saigon at Bien Hoa Air Base. 

Blessman has volunteered at more than 80 different presentations of the traveling wall. His traveling companion served in the Army as a combat medic during the war. 

“When we first started doing this, we wanted to make sure that the people who took time to come and visit the wall didn’t leave with any questions unanswered,” Blessman said. “So, that’s what we do. We’ve done the research and we can answer just about any question about the wall and the names that are up there.”

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Dennis Blessman is an Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War. He has volunteered at more than 80 presentations of The Moving Wall.

Blessman thanked the town of Thatcher and all who made it possible for the wall to come to town and all those who are assisting the volunteers with food and beverages.    

Those who wish to see the memorial for themselves can do so any time of day or night for free until Monday when it will be packed back up to be taken to its next destination.