Escort for Wall That Heals begins on campus
Dozens of area military veterans and law enforcement officials led by the Patriot Guard Riders escorted The Wall That Heals from the Allendale Campus to Fifth Third Ballpark September 20.
The Wall That Heals, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be on public display at Fifth Third Ballpark September 21-24, as part of LZ Michigan, an event to remember, honor and celebrate veterans and their family members.
WGVU Public Media is a co-sponsor of LZ Michigan and helped bring The Wall That Heals to Grand Rapids.
Before the escort began, Michael Walenta, general manager for WGVU Public Media, honored the veterans in attendance. "Welcome home," said Walenta. "This escort ride is the start of a series of events to remember and honor you and your family members and all veterans."
Matt McLogan, vice president for University Relations, said each military homecoming is different with its own experiences and time. "Today is your day," said McLogan. "Thank you for your service. Without it, none of us in my age group would be here today."
The Wall That Heals mobile exhibit was built in 1996 by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and has visited more than 400 cities and towns throughout the nation.
Tim Tetz, director of outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, told veterans, "You are finally getting the homecoming parade you deserve."
Tetz said the exhibit not only includes the names of veterans, but also some of the 400,000 items left at the wall including memorabilia, letters from moms and care packages that were never opened.
The exhibit will be on display during LZ Michigan September 23 from noon-8:30 p.m. at Fifth Third Ballpark. The event will feature speakers, military displays, the LZ Michigan Vietnam Big Map, Veteran World Map, local music artists, activities for kids, PBS Kids characters and more. Representatives from the Human Hug Project, which brings awareness to PTSD, will also take part.
Free tickets for LZ Michigan are available at Family Fare and D&W stores and Forest Hills Foods. Parking on Saturday is $5. The event is also sponsored by PBS Stories of Service and the West Michigan Whitecaps.