Vietnam wall expected to be major summer attraction
Bill Tate wants to get the word out as quickly as possible so people can schedule their summer schedules around an important community event.
"This is going to be a very large thing," said the media outreach coordinator for the Johnstown Community Sportsmans Club.
This July, the club will host the American Veterans Traveling Tribute's Traveling Wall, in conjunction with Johnstown's bicentennial celebration, to honor veterans of the Vietnam era and particularly those who gave their all in that foreign land.
Tate said more and more information about the event is becoming available as the event draws near.
According to a press release from the Sportsmans Club, the wall will be on the club's property at 7357 Sportsman Club Road NW, about three miles east of the Johnstown square.
From opening ceremonies commencing at noon Thursday, July 11, to the final ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 14, the wall will be accessible to visitors around the clock.
Sportsmans Club staff and other volunteers will be available to help visitors locate names of fallen servicemen and make pencil etchings of their names onto paper. Each day will bring presentations by distinguished speakers and a number of ceremonies involving regional organizations.
Parking will be available on the club property.
On July 10, the truck transporting the wall's structures will be escorted by patriotic motorcyclists on the final leg of its journey. That route will begin in Heath and pass through Granville, Alexandria and Johnstown en route to the Sportsmans Club.
"There are several of these (walls) around," Tate said, but he believes the wall that's coming is the largest of the replicas. He said this wall is 80 percent the mass of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. It is 360 feet long by 8 feet tall, with a flag display on top.
"There are a lot of moving parts to it," he said.
Tate said club members are meeting monthly to organize all the "pomp and circumstance" surrounding the wall's arrival and visit.
"Those who have been to the wall in Washington can attest to the strong emotions it often brings out in visitors who have a connection to one or more of the service members whose names are carved into the dark granite," the release states.
More than 58,000 of the service members' names, including 38 from Licking County, are on the wall, and about 1,200 are listed as missing.
The club also will have a tribute to the more than 3,000 victims and first responders who died in 9/11.
According to the release, the Department of Veterans Affairs will have a van with a portable clinic on site the Friday and Saturday of the visit, staffed with personnel who will help enroll and screen veterans who are eligible for benefits in the VA system. Volunteers from the Disabled American Veterans organization will have a tent manned Friday and Saturday to talk to veterans or their surviving dependents about VA benefits.
Tate said the Sportsmans Club would continue to release more details about the event as they become available.
For more information, visit the Johnstown Community Sportsmans Club website at jcscohio.org and find the link to the wall.