On Wednesday, hundreds of cheering Harry Hurst Middle School students waved American flags as they welcomed a replica of arguably the most famous monument in the nation.
Complete with the names of 58,249 brave soldiers who either lost their lives in conflict or went missing from Vietnam, The Wall That Heals was marched to the school’s football field, where it will be displayed until Sunday. The wall, which is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was unveiled on Veterans Day in 1996. Since that time, the replica has traveled to communities around the country.
This year, Destrehan is one of only 20 other places where the wall will be displayed.
“This visit is so significant because it allows our residents and Veterans to experience the Vietnam Memorial even if they are never able to make it to Washington, D.C.,” Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said. “It’s a great educational and cultural opportunity for the River Region as a whole, but more importantly it’s a chance to say ‘thank you’ to all our servicemen and women.”
Harry Hurst Social Studies teacher Tammy Windmann was responsible for getting The Wall That Heals to St. Charles Parish, but she says that it was St. Pierre who really made the event possible.
“Mr. St. Pierre came to talk to Harry Hurst a couple of years ago for Veterans Day, and he really moved us,” she said. “We felt like we had to do this.”
Louisiana State Troopers, in conjunction with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, brought the replica to Harry Hurst yesterday morning. Volunteers set up the replica last night and an opening ceremony for the wall will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday. The replica will then be on display until May 10 and will be open 24 hours a day.
Along with the replica, visitors can experience a traveling museum and information center.
The museum chronicles the Vietnam War era and the unique healing power of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, while the information center serves as a venue for people to learn about friends and loved ones lost in the war.
Since its dedication in 1996, The Wall That Heals has visited more than 300 cities and towns throughout the nation.