WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – You can expect big crowds on the West Haven shoreline this weekend. The Bradley Point section is known for its memorials to those who fought and perished defending freedom, but for the next few days there will be one more.
It is called The Wall that Heals, and it is a half scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington.
“To me, this means emotion. You look at some of the names, people we know, it brings back 50 years ago,” said Vietnam veteran Dave Ricci. Ricci is also president of the West Haven Veterans Council, which worked to bring the wall to West Haven.
It travels the country so people who can’t make it to Washington can still experience its solemn elegance. It helps vets and their families remember those lost.
“These are our brothers that did not come home with us,” said Al Beck, Vietnam veteran and Vice-President of the West Haven Veterans Council. “We are the fortunate ones. 50 years ago, I served my country and I came home.”
To help fund the wall’s visit, they sold small American flags. They sold far more than they expected, so now more than 600 of them stick out of the ground around the wall, each one labeled with whatever name the donor requested. It’s the names on the wall that draw you in, however. More than 58,000 names are etched on a surface that lets you see own face reflected back in among the names of the dead.
For those too young to remember the war, the wall makes sure the country never forgets. News8 saw evidence that it works. A school field trip came early Thursday and just started singing the national anthem. The veterans who where there still setting things up, stopped and stood at attention. The wall brings that out in people.
“We already had a few veterans of Vietnam here yesterday and you could see the emotion just well up in their eyes,” Ricci said.
Coming to the wall is an event itself, but there will also be events at the wall. There is an opening ceremony Thursday at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday at 7 p.m., there will be a candlelight vigil which will feature a reading of the names of the 612 Connecticut residents on that wall.
The Vets Rock expo and concert at Mohegan Sun will also be hosting the Wall on Veterans Day. For more information on Vets Rock please visit vetsrock.info.