Vietnam Veterans Memorial Traveling Wall exhibit in Winchester City Park

Friday, October 19, 2007
Photo by Ian Skotte Winchester city employees have been working for the past three days to get the Moving Wall up and ready in time for its premiere this weekend at the Winchester City Park.

The City of Winchester announces its’ sponsorship of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Traveling Wall that will be in Winchester City Park this weekend. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall arrived Wednesday afternoon at the Winchester City Park in between the Citizens Pavilion and Tims Ford Lake. Viewing the moving memorial began Thursday and will remain in the park until Monday, Oct. 22 at 8 pm. The Wall will be open to the public 24 hours a day.

The Moving Wall is a half size replica of the actual wall. This is the only time it will be in Tennessee this year.

The idea of a national Vietnam Memorial began when Dr. Victor Westphall of Angel Fire, N.M., began constructing a memorial in Angel Fire in memory of his son and those who died with him.

The concept and actual building of the Moving Wall grew out of the work and effort of John Devitt, Gerry Haver and Norris Shears, Vietnam veterans from California, concerned with what they might possibly do to somehow “keep alive” and share the power and good that Devitt had experienced while attending the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D. C.

At first it was decided to build a replica and display it on the West Coast so that people who lived so far from the Capital might have a chance to experience the Wall. While in Washington D. C. in February 1983, John Devitt was explaining his project to several other veterans he had just met. One exclaimed, “What a great idea! Is this going to be portable?” Trying to avoid any negatives around his project, John simply nodded and replied, “Yeah, it’s going to be portable.”

The Moving Wall was completed in October 1984 having taken nearly two years rather than the two weeks John had hoped for.

When facing The Moving Wall, the East is always to your right, starting with the panel with 1959 at the top and no panel number at the bottom. The West wall is the panel with 1975 at the bottom. The numbers at the bottom identifying each panel are used in locating a name and are merely reference numbers. They do not signify dates. The white dots are used to help locate the line on which a name appears, and are particularly helpful when looking for a name on the larger panels.

Each dot marks 20 lines. They are located in the margin of each panel having more than 20 lines. The diamond and plus symbols indicate whether a person is confirmed dead (including those who died from accidents and natural causes), or those missing. The diamonds indicate that a person’s death was confirmed. The pluses indicate that a person remains missing and/or held as a prisoner of war, and are in no way meant to be a religious symbol.

A plus can be turned into a diamond if a person is declared dead or their remains are recovered. A circle symbolizing the ‘Circle of Life” will be inscribed around a plus if a person is freed and brought home alive.

The Moving Wall is made of aluminum panels, having a surface painted with two-part polyurethane gloss black which gives a mirror-like finish, mounted to angular aluminum frames. The original structure toured for almost three years before it was decided to replace the structure because of so much weathering. The aluminum structure is supported from the back by 76 steel square tubular braces.

The City of Winchester is the sponsor of The Moving Wall but has received much support from local military and the local VFW Post.