The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., draws millions of visitors each year who come to pay emotional tributes to the men and women who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. So it is with the four replicas of the Vietnam Wall, which tour the nation, giving citizens who cannot travel to Washington the opportunity to pay their respects.
Lander University will host one of the four memorials, "The Wall That Heals," which will be on display on the university campus in Greenwood, Sept. 8-11, to coincide with the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
Since its unveiling in 1996 by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, "The Wall That Heals," has visited sites in more than 300 cities and towns in the U.S. and Canada. The half-scale replica of the original memorial measures 250 feet in length. It is made up of 24 panels, each containing six columns listing the names of American servicemen and women who were killed in Vietnam, 58,249 in all. The total includes the names of nearly 900 South Carolinians.
Carey Bolt Jr., veterans affairs officer for Greenwood and Laurens counties, is coordinating the Wall exhibit with Lander, Self Regional Healthcare and other organizations as sponsors.
Jim Pfeiffer, president and CEO of Self, said, "I am excited about having this exhibit in Greenwood. We need to honor our veterans because without them, we would not have our freedoms." Pfeiffer's family has a long history of military service. His father is a West Point graduate, and his son graduated from the Air Force Academy.
Lander president Dan Ball said the university is privileged to display the Wall replica. "This memorial showcases the men and women who gave their lives to keep our nation free."
Ball noted that several Lander students are serving or have served in the military. The university is also home to Bearcat Company of the Highlander Battalion, an Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) unit.
Bolt, a retired Army paratrooper, said the Wall and a small museum will be located adjacent to Lander's Chipley residence hall and open to the public 24 hours a day beginning at 9 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 8.
Anna Cuson, Self's senior internal auditor who is assisting with arrangements, said a number of activities are scheduled in conjunction with the event. On Saturday, Sept. 10, Self Regional Healthcare will conduct a health fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the hospital. At the same time, there will be a "Wheels for Heroes" cruise-in car and bike rally at Piedmont Plaza. There will also be a 5K Patriot Run and 1K walk starting at 7 a.m., and a parade from Uptown Greenwood to Lander's main entrance at noon.
Several civilian and military dignitaries will take part in ceremonies on Sunday, Sept. 11, beginning with a wreath placing at the Wall at 1:30 p.m. At 5:30 p.m. in Lander's ampitheatre, recognition will be paid to veterans, police officers, firefighters and first responders, followed by the dedication of a Hall of Heroes.
The display of the Wall will conclude with a one-hour candlelight vigil at 11 p.m. on Sunday.