A Vietnam War veterans healing wall war memorial, due to open to the public earlier in March this year, suffered vandalism recently.
The opening ceremony, currently on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, will now suffer further delay as repairs are scheduled to be carried out.
The memorial in Johns Creek, Atlanta, in the South Eastern state of Georgia, USA, is the eighth permanently situated replica of the Washington DC Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. Work started in 2019 but was put on hold due to the pandemic.
The Johns Creek Veterans Association, a non-profit service and social organisation that helps to run and maintain the Memorial Walk at Newtown Park, had been working on the project since July last year.
The group also maintains monuments to those that gave their lives in both World Wars, Purple Heart recipients, Prisoners of War and those listed as Missing in Action as well as a memorial dedicated to Women in Service.
The entire venture is funded by public donations and the repair work is estimated at thousands of dollars. The damage was extensive with at least half of the panels, inscribed with the 58,000 names of the servicemen lost in Vietnam, badly scratched with a sharp implement and many more struck with a hammer.
The sole surveillance video in the area is being checked for any evidence that might lead to the apprehension of the vandals.
Meanwhile association member Mike Mizell confirmed that while there was a reward up for more information that he would like the culprits to join him in cleaning up the mess they left behind and learning what the Memorial Park is all about.
Mizell said in a statement that, ‘(The Veterans named on the Wall) made the ultimate sacrifices for the freedoms you and I have today, and I think a lot of people take that for granted. You didn’t just hurt that structure, you hurt some people.’
The original Memorial Wall in Washington DC has had a history of vandalism over the years with hundreds of cases of minor and petty acts. The most costly was in September 2007 when oil was thrown over a large area on the wall and the adjacent paving. It took city authorities several weeks to clean up.
The memorial was designed by Maya Lin and was selected through a competition in 1981 that attracted 1,421 designs. Lin’s design was listed as no. 1026, having been longlisted with 231 others and then shortlisted alongside another 38. The prize of $20,000 was awarded by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
Lin’s design, the smooth black wall inscribed with the names of the fallen, was not universally approved of, with some former supporters of the Fund publicly withdrawing their support, but over the years the ‘black gash of shame’ has transformed into a popular national shrine.
An opening ceremony on November 13th, 1982 was attended by President Ronald Reagan and tens of thousands of Vietnam War veterans as part of a five-day series of memorial events in Washington DC.
The Memorial has since inspired six mobile replica versions that travel across the United States to be put on display in hundreds of small towns across the US, staying a few days for remembrance events.
In 1984 John Devitt’s Vietnam Combat Veterans Ltd created a half-size replica called the Moving Wall in Tyler Texas. Not everyone can make the trip across the continent to Washington and so the wall is booked up months in advance with a huge waiting list.
To meet demand VCV Ltd created two more mobile memorials. The first Moving Wall was retired in 2001 and put on permanent display in Pittsburg, Kansas in 2004, and by 2006 the organisation had recorded over 1,000 hometown visits, with an estimated visitor count in the millions.
If you would like to make a donation or offer your services to the Johns Creek Veterans Association to support the ongoing efforts to repair the memorial, visit JCVETS.org.