OCEAN PINES – Community members lined the roadway this week to celebrate the arrival of The Wall That Heals.
On Tuesday, a 53-foot trailer carrying a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial made its way to Veterans Memorial Park in Ocean Pines. The exhibit – led by a motorcycle escort of more than 100 volunteers and local law enforcement – also received a warm welcome from community members, who gathered off Route 589 to show their support.
“I hope you realize how historic this is,” Marie Gilmore, president of the Worcester County Veterans Memorial Foundation, told attendees this week. “This traveling Wall That Heals does not usually stop in Maryland because we have our own Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. But the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund thought that this was such a spectacular, patriotic area, there’s so many wonderful people down here, that they brought The Wall That Heals to the Eastern Shore and I could not be happier. I thank you for being part of it.”
The Wall That Heals is a national traveling exhibit that honors the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. The wall – measuring 375 feet long and 7.5 feet high at its tallest point – includes the names of more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remain missing.
The Worcester County Veterans Memorial will host the exhibit, which will be open to the public 24 hours a day, until Sunday, April 25, at 2 p.m.
In addition to the wall, the 53-foot trailer that carries the exhibit will transform into a mobile Education Center featuring a timeline of “The War and The Wall,” as well as additional information about The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit this exhibit in our community, and to honor the sacrifices of our Vietnam veterans,” Gilmore said.
In conjunction with The Wall That Heals exhibit, the Veterans Memorial Foundation held a Welcome Home Opening Ceremony on Thursday. The ceremony included remarks from Brig. Gen. Warner Sumpter, U.S. Army (retired) and chairman of the Veterans Home Commission, Maryland State Sen. Doug Peters, Maryland State Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, and American ex-Vietnam POW Ralph Galati.
A candlelight ceremony will also be held on Friday, April 23, at 7 p.m. Guests will be able to walk along the wall, holding a candle, as volunteers read aloud the names of “hometown heroes” from Worcester County, as well as from other counties on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia and Sussex County in Delaware.
Public parking will be available at the site of the event, and volunteers will staff the exhibit 24 hours a day. Additionally, shuttle service will be available from the parking area next to Taylor Bank on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Limited seating will be available during events, and guests are encouraged to bring chairs. COVID-19 protocols are still in effect, including mask mandates and social distancing.
“Thank you to everyone who came out to support this historic exhibit that honors our Vietnam veterans,” Ocean Pines General Manager John Viola told attendees on Tuesday. “And thank you to the Worcester County Veterans Memorial Foundation for planning and organizing this visit. We look forward to the opening ceremonies on Thursday.”
For more information on the Worcester County Veterans Memorial Foundation or The Wall That Heals, visit www.opvets.org.