Kaydee Laney / Lantern reporter
Despite freezing temperatures and a snow storm, the Columbus Division of Police, Columbus Division of Fire and the Ohio State Highway Patrol escorted a 250-foot wall to the Ohio Historical Society.
“The Wall That Heals,” a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., was transported to Columbus from Indiana on Sunday as part of a four-day commemoration of Vietnam Veterans Day in Ohio. Although the wall was supposed to be brought in by thousands of motorcycles on Sunday afternoon, the escort was canceled due to the storm that covered some areas of the state in four to six inches of snow.
The traveling replica is scheduled to be on display at the Ohio History Center from Tuesday until Friday, and admission to view the wall and the history museum are free this week only. Regular museum admission is $10.
The week’s events will begin with an opening ceremony on Tuesday at 10 a.m. Panel discussions with Vietnam veterans and special exhibits at the Statehouse Museum Gallery and Motts Military Museum in Groveport will also take place throughout the week.
“There are going to be a series of lectures at the Ohio History Center that will feature veterans talking about their experiences,” said Shannon Thomas, communications specialist for the Ohio Historical Society. “It’s a nice way to kind of understand the diverse experiences of veterans, and it’s a good way to honor their stories and experiences.”
Although events surrounding “The Wall That Heals” will be happening during the day, visitors can come see the wall any time.
“The really cool thing about this (commemoration) is that when the wall goes up, (starting) Tuesday it can be viewed 24 hours a day,” Thomas said.
Volunteers will be on site to allow anyone the opportunity to see the wall and honor the fallen.
“A Vietnam veteran who attends this will, I hope, feel very honored and respected, because that’s why were doing this,” said Michael McKinney, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. “It’s a time to honor all of our Vietnam veterans and all those who never got to come home.”
This year marks the first state-level commemoration following Gov. John Kasich signing Senate Bill 134 last year designating March 30 as Vietnam Veterans Day. President Barack Obama also declared March 29 as national Vietnam Veterans Day in 2012. March 29, 1973, marks the day when U.S. troops were pulled out of Vietnam.
“It’s important that we establish Vietnam Veterans Day so that the people of Ohio can unite in one voice and say that they are grateful and proud of the veterans of that conflict,” said Thomas Moe, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, in a release. “It is a voice that is finally saying to them, ‘Welcome home.'”
Some hope this brings more Ohio State students, especially student veterans, out to the Ohio Historical Center.
“You’ve got a ton of student veterans at OSU,” McKinney said. “I realize they’re not Vietnam veterans, but they would probably be very interested (in this event).”
The Ohio History Center museum will be open 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The events will conclude on Friday with the retiring of “The Wall That Heals” in a ceremony from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Ohio History Center is located at 800 E. 17th Ave.