The Wall That Heals, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, will be at Central Park in Bellevue from June 22 through 25. Central Park is on North Street.
“It is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam wall in Washington,” said Rob Ward, of the Huron County Veterans Service Office. “We were fortunate to get on their 2017 schedule.
“It’s going to be open 24 hours a day,” he said. “The last time the wall was in Ohio was Sept. 11, 2016 in Geauga County.”
The wall is coming to Bellevue, thanks in part to Kenn and Donn Rospert. Kenn is an Army veteran and Donn served in the Marines.
Ward said Bellevue is a “veteran-supportive community,” full of people who regularly turn out for veteran-related activities. More than 500 people attended a recent fundraiser at the Bellevue Eagles.
“The Eagles is responsible for half-funding to bring this wall here,” Ward said. “(Bellevue) had their share of veterans. They are a very invested community. … They just love their veterans.”
A mobile education center comes with the wall, which will be open 24 hours. Ward said the trailer includes Vietnam-era letters to and from vets, memorabilia that has been left at the wall in Washington and a chronology of Vietnam events.
An educational event will take place from 8 a.m. to noon June 24, followed by a pinning ceremony at 1 p.m. for Vietnam-era veterans. Ward said the ceremony is to honor and thank vets who served from 1955 through 1975, regardless of their duty station.
In addition to the wall replica and education center, a motorcycle memorial escort will be June 21. Staging and line-up is from 7 to 8:10 a.m. at Fox Cycle Works, 1011 Fremont Ave., Sandusky. The escort, which will go through Norwalk and Monroeville on the way to Bellevue, is expected to arrive at Central Park at 10:30 a.m.
The entire experience is targeted toward veterans and their descendants. If anyone has helpful information to identify veterans, their relatives or to volunteer and/or ask questions, call Larry Duncan at 419-668-4150.
Duncan has experienced the wall in Washington in 1995 with Rolling Thunder, a veterans biking group. He served with the 586 Roadrunners for 12 months in Vietnam.
“It was in three different regions in Vietnam,” said Duncan, the transportation manager at the Huron County Veterans Service Office. “Some veterans have deep-rooted frustration or rooted age for the way they were treated for their service.”
As a result, his search for veterans and their descendants is complicated.
The traveling wall, created in 1996, is a program of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
There were 28 soldiers killed or missing in action from Huron County, Ward said. In addition, the veterans officer said there were 110 KIAs or MIAs from the four counties in the Bellevue area.
The next planning meeting is at 1 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Bellevue city council chambers.
“We are looking for volunteers. That’s the best to let us know you want to help out,” Ward said.
People who are interested in volunteering should call the Huron County Veterans Service Office at 419-668-4150.