﹛﹛Visitors look for names at The Wall That Heals during a previous stop. The exhibit, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., is coming to the Johnson County fairgrounds from June 3 to 6. Submitted photo from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
﹛﹛On Tuesday morning, trucks carrying sacred cargo will roll into Johnson County.
﹛﹛The Wall That Heals will arrive in separate pieces, accompanied by law enforcement and escorts of veterans as they head for Franklin. Etched on the different segments are more than 58,000 names of those who died in the Vietnam War.
﹛﹛When it is fully assembled on the Johnson County fairgrounds, the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. will stretch 375 feet and stand 7 1/2 feet at its tallest.
﹛﹛Organizers expect the appearance of the memorial to be an emotional moment for all involved. And that＊s before the exhibit opens to the public.
﹛﹛※I can＊t believe it＊s here. It doesn＊t even seem real yet. I＊m just so anxious to see it myself,§ said Kathy Ballou, chairperson of The Wall That Heals Franklin, which is organizing the exhibit. ※I＊ll be staying out there every minute that it＊s here, because I don＊t want to miss any minute of it.§
﹛﹛After years of attempting to bring The Wall That Heals to the county, and the months of planning that have gone into preparing for its arrival, those involved with it are ready for a cathartic experience for veterans, family members and the community in general.
﹛﹛The exhibit will be open around the clock from Thursday until closing at 2 p.m. Sunday.
﹛﹛Frank Vaughn, who served in the Vietnam War in 1970 and 1971, is planning on being at the fairgrounds when the wall first arrives. His plan is to also spend some time at the replica over the four days it is set up.
﹛﹛He has visited the wall in Washington D.C. a number of times, the first being in 1989. He tries to go every few years, even if it always brings back a range of emotions.
﹛﹛※It can be difficult to go to. I＊m sure this one will not be the easiest thing, because a lot more emotions will come from it,§ he said. ※But it＊s a healing wall. That＊s what it＊s meant to me, and I hope a lot of people go to support it.§
﹛﹛The Wall That Heals is a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that travels to communities around the country. Since 1996, the exhibit has been touring the nation to honor the more than 3 million people who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War.
﹛﹛The significance of The Wall That Heals is to ensure everyone can experience the memorial, no matter where they are, said Tim Tetz, director of outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which organizes the exhibit as well as the memorial in Washington D.C.
﹛﹛※Not everyone is able to or desires to come to Washington D.C. There are people who are physically, emotionally, psychologically unable to come. As the Vietnam generation has aged, it has become even more challenging to them,§ he said. ※Even for other generations, we have the ability to bring the Washington D.C. Wall experience to them.§
﹛﹛Visitors experience The Wall rising above them as they walk toward the apex, just like the design of the memorial in Washington D.C. Two paper directories list the names found on the Wall alphabetically. Visitors to the exhibit can do name rubbings of individual service members listed on The Wall, by day of casualty.
﹛﹛Along with the wall, a mobile education center helps teach about the Vietnam War and those who sacrificed for it.
﹛﹛Franklin is one of 26 communities chosen to host The Wall That Heals tour this year, and the only one in Indiana. Ballou spearheaded the effort to bring the exhibit to Johnson County.
﹛﹛She and a committee of volunteers did fundraisers, organized the facilities at the fairgrounds and worked with The Wall That Heals organizers to prepare for its arrival.
﹛﹛※We＊re double-checking everything, sending e-mails out to volunteers about training, arranging meals for people. Those are the kinds of things we＊re making sure of,§ Ballou said.
﹛﹛Untold hours have gone into the planning. But it＊s been worth it, she said.
﹛﹛※It＊s been ever-consuming almost every minute of my day, but it＊s so exciting,§ Ballou said.
﹛﹛The Wall That Heals is expected to travel down U.S. 31 shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday, and people are encouraged to line the roadway to welcome it in. Organizers plan to be at the fairgrounds by 2:15 p.m.
﹛﹛Set-up of the exhibit will take place on Wednesday. Volunteers have their training at 6 p.m. Wednesday, learning things such as how to lead people through the mobile education center, how to assist people doing name-rubbings and how to locate names on the wall.
﹛﹛Then on Thursday, the exhibit opens to the public with a dedication ceremony. From that point, the wall is open 24 hours a day, to allow for those who want to visit when the exhibit is less crowded.
﹛﹛Organizers have planned a series of special events during the local run of The Wall That Heals, including a candlelight vigil on Friday night and an honors ceremony by American Legion Post 205.
﹛﹛The exhibit is expected to attract thousands of people, including many who have indicated they＊ll be coming from other parts of Indiana or regions of the country.
﹛﹛※We＊ve heard from so many people about it,§ Ballou said.
﹛﹛Steve Young is planning on attending the memorial during its stay. The U.S. Air Force veteran served in Vietnam in 1970, so the memorial has great meaning for him, too.
﹛﹛His son, daughter-in-law and grandson will be in town visiting next week, so the hope is to take them all together to see The Wall That Heals. The visit could serve as a chance for the whole family to reflect, Young said.
﹛﹛※I＊ve had a chance to go to the memorial in D.C., but they haven＊t,§ he said. ※It＊ll be an opportunity for them to see some of what＊s being done to recognize Vietnam veterans in that way.§
﹛﹛At a glance
﹛﹛The Wall That Heals
﹛﹛What: A 3/4 scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., which travels to communities throughout the country with a mobile education center to pay tribute to those who served in the Vietnam War.
﹛﹛When: June 3-6, 2021.
﹛﹛Where: Johnson County fairgrounds, Franklin
﹛﹛Trucks carrying The Wall That Heals arrive in Johnson County. The exhibit will travel down U.S. 31 from Indianapolis to Franklin between approximately 1:15 and 2:15 p.m.
﹛﹛8:30 a.m.: Setup of The Wall That Heals begins
﹛﹛6 p.m.: Volunteer training
﹛﹛9 a.m.:?The Wall That Heals dedication ceremony; remains open 24 daily for visitors.
﹛﹛9:30 p.m.: Candlelight vigil
﹛﹛1:30 p.m.: Honors ceremony
﹛﹛2 p.m.: The Wall That Heals closes; breakdown of the exhibit starts.