Rows and rows of names across panel after panel fill the 252 feet of The Moving Wall memorial. The names are those of men and women killed or missing in Vietnam between 1956 and 1975. It is a solemn reminder of the true cost of war that is on display this weekend along the Lake George shore.
The Moving Wall, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., arrived in Bolton Landing Wednesday, an effort of the Bolton American Legion Post #961. The memorial was erected in Veterans Park and opened for public viewing yesterday at noon following opening ceremonies.
The Moving Wall was conceived by John Devitt, a Vietnam Veteran. Moved by the sight of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., Devitt, along with other veterans, built a replica of the black granite monument, painstakingly silk-screening the names on each panel with stencils borrowed from the architectural firm that oversaw construction of the D.C. memorial. They made The Moving Wall portable so that those unable to visit Washington D.C. would have the opportunity to experience the memorial and pay respect at a place closer to home.
Construction of The Moving Wall was completed in 1984 and first displayed in Tyler, Texas. Over the past 33 years, it has traveled across the country. Its visit to Bolton Landing is the only 2017 viewing in New York State.
There are 58,318 names on the wall. A diamond symbol indicates a member of the Armed Forces killed in action. A plus sign marks those missing in action. As MIAs are found, the plus sign is changed to a diamond for those confirmed dead, or a circle, for those who returned alive.
As with the monument in D.C., visitors to The Moving Wall often leave mementos beneath the names of lost loved ones. A few items have been pinned to the skirting or placed on the ground at the Bolton site. When the wall is taken down, these artifacts will be boxed and stored at The Moving Wall warehouse. The Moving Wall organization plans to build a museum where these items will be displayed.
The Moving Wall is open to the public 24-hours a day through Monday morning, Sept. 25. According to an attendant, The Moving Wall saw a steady stream of visitors throughout last night. Some came alone to sit in quiet reflection. Closing ceremonies, with comments by Commander Kimberly Terpening, the American Legion Color Guard, Taps and a 21-gun salute begin at 9 a.m. on Sept. 25.