Credit - Lynn Item, April 4th 2021
NAHANT — The traveling Vietnam Veterans memorial, also known as “the Wall that Heals,” will finally make its way to Nahant this summer.
Initially slated to visit the North Shore last year following efforts by American Legion Post 215 to bring the memorial to Nahant in celebration of the legion’s 100th anniversary, the wall’s arrival was postponed indefinitely in June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frank Guidara, an American Legion member and Vietnam veteran, told The Item last June that he was disappointed by the unexpected turn of events.
“I really didn’t want to lose the date because you’re fighting against towns and cities all over America,” he said. “To be picked as one of the ones the wall would go to — and getting the dates we wanted — we were pretty excited.”
Operated by the Veterans Memorial Fund, the wall — a replica three-fourths the size of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. — allows visitors to do rubbings of individual service members’ names, which are listed by day of casualty on the monument’s avonite surface.
It also doubles as a mobile education center that includes photos of service members and a display of items representative of those left at the larger version of the wall in Washington in remembrance of servicemen lost.
“It’s called ‘The Wall that Heals,’ and that’s a good name, but it doesn’t really describe what it is. We’ve been calling it the ‘Memorial Wall,’” American Legion member Toby Quirk said last June. “It evokes the same kind of somber and patriotic emotions that the wall in Washington, D.C. evokes. It makes it very accessible and … we expect to have people come from great distances to this event, not just Vietnam veterans and their families, but also children, grandchildren, friends of veterans. A big element of this is the education center.”
Guidara added: “If you’ve been to the other war memorials (in D.C.), the Korean War, World War I, World War II, this one has a different sense to it. It’s about the young men, the young men who died.”
Towns and cities across the country must enter for a chance to have the memorial visit their communities, and competition can be tough. Before Nahant, the memorial was originally scheduled to make stops in Bedford, Pa,; Clinton Township, Mich.; Wheaton, Ill.; and Tama, Iowa.
Nahant is the farthest North the wall will travel in 2021. Residents of the North Shore and beyond will be able to visit the memorial from July 14-18.
“I know there are Vietnam veterans in Nahant and surrounding towns who are going to have a time of reflection with the wall being here,” Quirk said. “It’s very important, I think, emotionally because you never get over some of those traumatic memories. This is another healing opportunity.”