The Wall that Heals, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. rolled into town today for a five-day exhibition outside the AGS Administration Building at Indiana Wesleyan University’s Marion, Indiana Education Center.

The wall, a 250-foot aluminum reproduction of the stone monument on Washington’s National Mall listing the names of all soldiers who died or were unaccounted for during the Vietnam War, came to town loaded onto a truck and escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders, a national motorcycle club committed to honoring America’s veterans.

The Wall that Heals has been to 400 cities. Sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the Wall criss-crosses the country under the care of Bob and Brenda Dobek. Bob Dobek spent 23 1/2 years in the United States Army.

“A lot of people can’t go to Washington, D.C. and it’s the first time they’ve seen their relative’s name engraved in there,” Brenda Dobek. “It’s a very emotional thing…they never got to say goodbye, and here they can say goodbye to them. It just relieves people of a lot of pent-up emotion that they’ve carried in their heart for 40 years.”

The exhibit comes to Marion at the same time as the town’s annual Hog Daze motorcycle rally. Aletha Dunston, city planner for Marion, Indiana, says that the Wall’s Marion visit became possible thanks to the generosity of a number of local businesses.

“We’ve been working on it for about two years…never successfully had a date upon until this year,” Dunston said. “We realized that it was going to be a little harder than we thought to raise the necessary funds to bring it…the community’s really rallied and come together.”

The wall’s Marion sojourn will officially open tomorrow at noon and last until Sunday morning, September 23. Volunteers will staff the facility 2 hours a day to answer questions and aid visitors. Though it’s a popular practice to take pencil rubbings from the names etched on the Washington wall, the laser-etchings on the Wall that Heals do not rub off in the same way. Visitors can fill out a rubbing request card and receive a rubbing from the Washington Wall.

Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Larry Richardson at 765-662-9931 or lrichardson@marionindiana.us.

Slider photo credit: Hu Totya (license)