AURORA, IL -- It has been 24 years since The Moving Wall, a 3/5-size replica of the Washington, D.C. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, has been on display in Aurora. But it's coming back this Veterans Day through the efforts of the Fox Valley Veterans Breakfast Club, Vietnam veteran Herschel Luckinbill, presenting sponsor Fifth Third Bank, and a small army of volunteers.
The Wall will rise in the practice soccer fields of West Aurora High School, 1201 W. New York St., and be on display Nov. 7 through 11.
The Wall is engraved with the names of 58,282 Americans who perished in the Vietnam War or are still unaccounted for (Prisoners of War and Missing in Action).
"The entire Aurora community is extremely supportive of our troops, they demonstrate respect for our veterans, and they take pride in our military," said Dr. Rudy Keller, director of patriotism at West Aurora High School and a member of the committee to bring The Moving Wall to Aurora. "The Moving Wall will heighten the patriotism that already flourishes in Aurora."
When The Moving Wall first visited Aurora 24 years ago, it was displayed in McCullough Park. Former American Legion Post 84 Commander and Vietnam veteran Norris "Doc" Erickson, who died last year, was instrumental in the effort.
Luckinbill is estimating upward of 200,000 people will come to see The Moving Wall display, which also will include the Illinois Fallen Heroes Traveling Memorial, a model of the World War II Memorial and more than 2,000 United States flags.
Referring to volunteers, Luckinbill said, "There will be plenty to do.There will be a task for every person who would like to help." Those interested in volunteering for the event or being sponsors can call Luckinbill at 630-801-9591.
Like the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., The Moving Wall was paid for with contributions made by the public. No tax dollars were spent on either memorial. The concept and actual building of The Moving Wall grew out of the efforts of three Vietnam veterans from California who wished to share the power that one of the men, John Devitt, experienced while attending the dedication of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial in 1982. The Moving Wall was completed in 1984.
The length of The Moving Wall is 254 feet, slightly longer than half the length of the memorial in Washington, D.C.
"We want this to be the biggest event this Wall and Aurora has ever seen, and we want it to honor all veterans," said Luckinbill. "As a Vietnam veteran, having the wall come to Aurora means everything to me. I served on the firs t American ship that received direct gunfire in the Vietnam War. I lost a shipmate who slept right above me. I know what war's about."