NORTHFIELD — Patriots who can't travel to Washington, D.C. but who would like to view the Vietnam Memorial Wall will have a chance when a smaller replica comes to the area in June.
In commemoration of the soldiers who gallantly served their country during the Vietnam War, Northfield VFW Post 6768 and Auxiliary with the Rolling Thunder, Chapter 1 Ohio are hosting the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall on the grounds of Northfield VFW Post 6768 from June 13 to 16.
Committee members include Post Commander Joe Scherma, Quartermaster Jim Sobek, Senior Vice Commander Clinton Ulrich, Auxiliary President Kim Esposito, Auxiliary Guard Margie Valenti, VFW Post 6768 Riders President Greg Findura and Andy Klush of Rolling Thunder Chapter 1 Ohio.
"When the Vietnam War was over, the soldiers didn't receive a reception when they came home," Scherma said. "They were spit on."
More than 58,000 names of service members who died due to the war are on the wall. Of those, 38,000 were under the age of 22, Scherma said.
"Young kids sacrificed their lives for freedom," he said.
The wall will be escorted to the Post after noon on June 12, when escorts will muster at the Costco parking lot, 6720 Bass Pro Road in Boston Heights, Esposito said. The Rolling Thunder, Post 6768 members and area safety forces will escort the wall to the post where it will be assembled.
Veterans can ride on a 50-foot trailer by meeting at the parking lot before noon when the caravan will begin, Esposito said.
Opening ceremonies will take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 13.
The Memorial will be on display at the post, 8586 Olde Eight Road, and will be open for public viewing 24 hours a day with security provided by volunteers during its visit, Esposito said. Speakers, clergy, opening and closing ceremonies are planned.
"There are a lot of Vietnam vets who can't go to Washington," Scherma said. "They lost a lot of buddies and they can come out and spend some time at the wall."
Parking will be available at Nordonia High School, 8006 South Bedford Road in Macedonia. Free transportation will be provided to and from the Memorial Wall. Volunteers will be available to assist anyone in need throughout the Memorial’s visit.
The Traveling Wall is a 3/5 scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., standing six feet tall at the center and covering almost 300 feet from end to end. Traveling the country, the memorial stands as a reminder of the great sacrifices made during the Vietnam War, Esposito said.
About 70 benches will be placed across the length of the wall for visitors to sit on, she said. No pets are allowed except for service dogs.
It was made for the purpose of helping heal and rekindle friendships and to allow people the opportunity to visit loved ones in their hometown who otherwise may not be able to make the trip to Washington, Esposito said.
Computers will be available to look up names and find their location on the wall, she said.
Bringing the wall to Northfield was a big challenge and the committee has been working on it for about a year trying to raise donations and organizing the event, Scherma said.
Donations are still being sought.
Players are needed for a Texas Hold-em fundraiser at 5 p.m. May 4 at the post. Registration begins at 4 p.m. with a $60 buy-in, 20-minute levels, and $25,000 in starting chips. Pre-registrations receive an extra $5,000 in chips. If interested in playing, call Kim Esposito at 330-807-6858 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
To donate money directly, go to GoFundMe.com and search: "Northfield Traveling Wall."
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or email@example.com