COTV At The Moving Wall

From October 8-13, we were fortunate to have the traveling, half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (in Washington, D.C.) at Sam Hicks Park in Old Town Temecula, thanks to the strenuous efforts of Johnny, the founder of the Manzanita Ranch, a non-profit which provides equine therapy for wounded veterans and others, such as cancer patients. Johnny applied to have the Wall come to Temecula 4-5 years ago and only found out that it would be in Temecula 4-5 months ago. He then did an unbelievable job of building a group of dedicated volunteer committee members to make it happen. Jodie Christopher of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Motorcycle Club headed the recruitment and training of the almost 400 volunteers needed to staff the Wall, acting as docents, readers (reading the list of 58,261 names of those killed in Vietnam), security, greeters, ushers, and on and on.

The Moving Wall is approximately a half size-replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and is composed of 74 frames containing aluminum panels with silk-screened names of the dead in order of date of death. It was conceived, and to this date is still maintained, by three Vietnam vets from California. It lists deaths starting in 1959 and through 1975, although it has been determined that were two deaths in 1956 and 1959, which have since been added.

Ray McIntosh, who was a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War contacted the group and then presented the opportunity to participate to the COTV membership. A significant number of members signed up for various duties over the several day period. Some worked on one day and some on several, doing a variety of jobs just to make things happen. We would like to thank Ray & Judy McIntosh (shift supervisors), Bob & Monica Clark, Bill Stedfield, Dave Crook, Layne & Mary Norby, Cyndee O’Brien, Joe Priebe, Bill Steed, Dee Jamison, Mike Grayson, Hans & Alma Boers, Charlie Stell, and Rob & Daryl Weber for taking the time in their busy schedules to make this event a success. Lou Long was also there and Paradise provided breakfast on Friday morning.nnIf we missed anyone, please let us know.

On October 9, the first volunteers to arrive found that the Wall was not “open for business” as planned because it arrived at 7am that day instead of the previous day as expected. However, the foundation had been constructed so a group of volunteers erected all 74 panels and leveled them in 2 ½ hours in time for the Opening Ceremony at noon, with a variety of dignitaries. The Wall was open 24 hours a day so that everyone who wanted to was able to seek out their loved ones’ names and make a “rubbing” from one of the panels. Docents were present to aid in finding names, in explaining the history of the wall, providing solace to those in distress or in leading them to on-site counselors. Readers continued reading a page of names each from 7am-7pm and all through the night on Sunday October 12 in order to complete a full reading plus a little more.

This was an emotional event for all involved – both attendees and volunteers. Thanks again to all COTV members who participated.