Keith Mathews of local VFW Post 1949 announced last February that the moving Vietnam Memorial would be coming to Enumclaw this August. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic put a monkey wrench in those plans. File photo by Ray Miller-Still

Keith Mathews of local VFW Post 1949 announced last February that the moving Vietnam Memorial would be coming to Enumclaw this August. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic put a monkey wrench in those plans. File photo by Ray Miller-Still

Moving Vietnam War Memorial rescheduled to 2021

Organizers said hosting it admin a pandemic was just “not feasible.”

It’s disappointing, but necessary, organizers say — the Vietnam Moving Wall, a traveling veteran memorial that was scheduled to hit Enumclaw this August, has been cancelled.

Instead, this half-size replica of the Washington, D.C. Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be displayed on the Plateau in August 2021.

Enumclaw VFW Post 1949 made the announcement late May, saying in a press release that “the project is a major financial and workload undertaking, and [is] not feasible with the high degree of uncertainty caused by the pandemic.”

Keith Mathews , a member of the local VFW post, spent the last six years trying to secure an Enumclaw appearance for the popular attraction, which is more than 252 feet in length — nearly the length of a football field — six feet tall at its highest point, and bears the names of 58,228 Americans who died during the Vietnam War.

“It was an emotional decision. On one hand, I had people not wanting to cancel it because they weren’t sure they were going to be around to even be there next year,” Mathews said. “But after talking with the Mayor and Fire Chief and others, even other VFW members, it wasn’t worth the overall risk of holding it.”

Mathews said the organization behind the memorial wall was seeing other cancellations as well, so it was easier for the group to reschedule for next year.

Although bringing the Moving Wall to Enumclaw is being pushed back, the plan remains nearly exactly the same: the memorial will be set up on the grassy fields between the Sunrise and Southward elementary schools in order to have Mount Rainier as a backdrop.

The memorial expects to be open 24 hours a day, with lights and security at night and ceremonies every morning; veterans and their families are able to make special arraignments for visits by calling the local VFW post at 206-245-4226 or eor@telisphere.com.

There will also be a special presentation featuring local veterans who died in Vietnam: Donnie Barium, Gerald Steven Hansen, Larry Joe Malatesta, Jeffery Allan Schweikl, William Fred Soule, and Michael Allen Hawk.

THE STORY BEHIND THE MOVING WALL

The story begins in 1982 when John Devitt attended the dedication Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and departed vowing to share the experience with those who did not have the opportunity to visit the nation’s capitol.

He and other Vietnam veterans built The Moving Wall, which went on display for the first time in Tyler, Texas, in October 1984.

A second Moving Wall was built in the late 1980s and, due to high demand, a third was built in 1995. One has been retired and is on permanent display while the other two travel the United States from April through November, spending about a week at each site.


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