JEFFERSON CITY - A travelling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will visit the Capitol's south lawn next week, declared Welcome Home Veterans week by Gov. Matt Blunt.
Volunteers will read each of the 58,249 names of servicemen killed or missing in the Vietnam War that appear on the wall. The Moving Wall is approximately half the size of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and includes all the names carved into the original. Volunteers will also help visitors locate and make rubbings of names on the wall.
Rep. Col. Jack Jackson, R-Wildwood, said the Moving Wall offers a healing opportunity for veterans of the Vietnam war and other wars, and veterans' families.
"I've seen some hurts and scars with respect to how Vietnam veterans were received when they returned from the war," said Jackson, a Vietnam veteran. "When we begin to honor those who gave everything, we begin to accept the thank-yous the state and nation is giving us."
The Moving Wall will aririve on a truck Sunday afternoon. Pat Rowe-Kerr, state veterans ombudsman with the Missouri Veterans Commission, encouraged people to meet the truck at the Ashland overpass on highway 63 to escort the wall to Jefferson City. The display will take a day and a half to set up, Kerr said.
Opening ceremonies will begin at noon on Tuesday, featuring music by the 40-piece Fort Leonard Wood 399th Army Band. Col. John Clark, a Vietnam veteran who was a Prisoner of War, Rep Col. Jackson and Vietnam veteran Lt. Col Lin Appling will speak.
Closing ceremonies will be held Sunday, Dec. 27 at 3 p.m.
Names will be read continuously from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day including Thanksgiving Day, and the wall will remain open to visitors all night.
"We want to treat the wall, the veterans and their families with the respect and reverence they deserve," Rowe-Kerr said.
"I think it's really important that people come and share their thoughts and emotions," Jackson said. "The wall is a welcome home to veterans."
The travelling memorial has visited Missouri 28 times since its completion in 1984, but has never made a stop at the state capital.
Al Davis, President of the Jefferson City Veteran's Council, said it took two years and several thousand dollars to bring the Movintg Wall to Jefferson City.
"We are overdue for it at the Capitol," Davis said. "We should have had it here a long time ago."
The Jefferson City appearance will be the last this year for the Moving Wall, which is on its way to Michigan for winter storage.