SACKETS HARBOR — After five years, Tina M. Thornton had all but given up her attempts to bring the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall to the community.
She finally got a phone call in March from the Moving Wall organization in White Pine, Mich., that the half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was, indeed, coming to the area.
“This year, they finally said yes,” Mrs. Thornton said, adding she’s excited for the community to, at last, host the wall.
The Moving Wall, a replica of the Washington, D.C. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, will be on display from Friday through Sunday in the green grass of the War of 1812 Battlefield State Park and Historic Site in Sackets Harbor.
The Northern New York-Fort Drum chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army is hosting the stop in Sackets Harbor.
“We just want to honor and support our veterans,” said Mrs. Thornton, who is chairing the event.
About 130 volunteers will help put up the wall in the Battlefield on Friday morning, take it down on Monday and work at the site during the three-day event.
While family members visit the wall, volunteers will be there to help them find their loved ones’ names along the 252-foot-long aluminum panels with 58,000 names of soldiers who died during the Vietnam conflict.
Tracing pencils also will be made available to the public after they find their loved ones’ names on the wall, which is six feet tall at its center.
Volunteer James W. Corriveau was assigned to prepare the site for the wall, erect a wood foundation and then remove it.
Local residents, village workers, state park officials, members of the 41st Engineering Battalion and Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes employees were among the volunteers who have helped bring the wall to Sackets.
“It’s a community project across the board,” Mr. Corriveau said.
He’s never seen the Moving Wall, while he has visited the original wall in the nation’s capital several times.
“There’s lots of people who haven’t gotten to Washington, so this is special,” he said.
Mr. Corriveau stressed Sackets Harbor’s rich military history that started with soldiers who died during the War of 1812 at the spot where the wall will be displayed.
“Their blood is still in the grass,” he said. “It’s a sacred place.”
Village Mayor Molly Reilly said the wall is connecting the War of 1812 soldiers with the 58,000 Vietnam War soldiers who gave their lives fighting for our freedom.
“It’s a way to honor the soldiers of the Vietnam War and say welcome home,” she said.
Several visits over the years to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington inspired Mrs. Thornton to bring the replica to the community, she said.
In her capacity with AUSA and as a bank officer for AmeriCu, she’s worked with numerous veterans, so she knows about the sacrifices they and their families have made.
“The Moving Wall” has been touring the country for 30-plus years. During its travels, the Moving Wall came to St. Regis Falls, Massena, Ogdensburg and in Moira in Franklin County last year.
The Moving Wall was the brainchild of John Devitt, a former helicopter door gunner and Army veteran, who came up with the Moving Wall idea after attending the 1982 dedication of “The Wall” in Washington.
The Moving Wall went on display for the first time in Tyler, Texas in October 1984.