A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, is in the Boston area this Veteran's Day weekend.
"The Moving Wall" is half the size of the monument down in Washington, but like the original monument, it displays the names of more than 58,000 American service members who died in the Vietnam War. It has traveled to cities and towns across the country for nearly 40 years, but this is its first stop in Somerville, Massachusetts.
It's an opportunity for those who haven't been able to see the real one in person to be able to pay their respects. The general public is invited to visit any time, and volunteers will be available on site 24 hours a day to assist visitors with finding names and crayon rubbings of names.
Visiting the Moving Wall is an emotional experience for many. One woman who spoke to NBC10 Boston on Sunday said she didn't know anyone whose name is on the wall but she teared up just looking at all the names.
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“It’s heartbreaking, as I’m crying right now. I think the younger generation doesn’t understand what these vets went through," said Brighton resident Natalie Dagostino. "To show respect to these fallen heroes is just a special thing and for it to come to the Boston area, if some people can’t travel the distance to see the wall, they’re able to see it now.”
The Moving Wall is more than 252 feet long from end to end and stands 6 feet tall at its highest point in the center. It has 74 separate frames to display the tens of thousands of names. It is set up in the Mass General Brigham Great Lawn at Assembly Row in Somerville for five days, Nov. 10-14.
“We are honored to host The Moving Wall in Somerville for the first time this year,” Mayor Katjana Ballantyne said in a press release posted to the city's website announcing the memorial's visit. “This is one way we can pay our respects to our past and present service members and families and allow our younger generations to gain a new understanding of American history."
"Visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in person is often a profound, emotional experience, and I’m grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to deliver this opportunity to our community," the mayor added. "I hope it brings healing to veterans and their loved ones in Somerville and beyond.”
According to the press release, the Somerville Department of Veterans’ Services worked to bring the memorial to the city to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while also giving many in the community an opportunity they may never otherwise have.
“This memorial serves as a reminder of the great sacrifices made during the Vietnam War. It’s particularly poignant because it allows people in our local communities the opportunity to pay their respects—especially those who physically or financially may not be able to make the trip to D.C.,” said Dr. Gregg Meyer, President of the Mass General Brigham Community Division and former Colonel in the United States Air Force. “As a leader in our community, and as an organization dedicated to healing, supporting, and employing our veterans, we at Mass General Brigham are honored to be able to host this important tribute.”
Ted Louis-Jacques, the director of Veterans’ Services, called it a unique opportunity for people to pay their respects to Somerville Vietnam War veterans.