CITY OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is available for viewing after dozens of local volunteers spent hours putting it together.
Nearly 50 volunteers, some of the police officers and firefighters, others from the Niagara Falls Air Force Base and Local UAW unions, spent their day building the wall on Wednesday. It took the group six to eight hours to complete.
The Wall That Heals is a 3/4 scale replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C. It travels the country in a tour bus in pieces, making stops like the one in Veterans Park in the City of Tonawanda. The wall includes all 58,281 names of the men and women who paid the ultimate price during the Vietnam War, including 543 from Western New York.
“This is a very solemn memorial,” Joe Pasek said, the chairman for the event in WNY. “It’s not a festival (and) it’s not a fair. It’s like visiting a cemetery, so we ask visitors to be respectful and give honor and tribute to those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
Joe Pasek, a Vietnam vet himself, submitted an application to bring The Wall That Heals here about 1.5 years ago, after seeing it in another city.
“The memory of these veterans… we want them to last forever.”
The wall is expected to attract 10,000 – 15,000 visitors during its stop in Tonawanda. It’s free and even lit at night, so the wall is available for viewing 24 hours a day.
The trailer that hauled the wall to WNY acts as an educational tool, showing videos and photos of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, along with facts about the war.
“So, we’re hoping young people will come here to learn about the history that they, unfortunately, see one page about the Vietnam War in their history books in school,” Norm Murray said, the co-chair of the event. “They’ll learn more about it and the sacrifices that were made.”
Extra parking will be available at Tonawanda High School. A shuttle will bring visitors to and from the park.
The Wall That Heals will be at Veterans Park through Sunday, July 25 at 2 p.m. It will travel to Athens, Ohio next.
Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.