CHESHIRE — Fourteen years ago, Cheshire played host to a special traveling monument — the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall.
For a few days in November of 2007, residents from all over the state came to pay respects to those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War, and some were able to make a rubbing of the name of a loved one whom they had lost.
Now, one Cheshire resident is bringing the wall back, in hopes of introducing a new generation to the history of the war.
Hayley Falk, 18 year-old founder of the local veterans-focused group Because of The Brave, is responsible for coordinating the wall’s return scheduled for the spring of next year, and is excited to bring the experience back to her hometown.
“Each day, I hope to remind everyone of the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before us to preserve our way of life, our freedom,” Falk said. “With The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall coming to town, it is a time for us as citizens of this great nation to honor every name on the Wall along with the Gold Star Families.”
The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall, which is also referred to as “The Wall That Heals,” is a replica of the monument in Washington, D.C., and stands roughly 6 feet tall and is nearly 300 feet long. Like the original wall, it is a chevron shape and has 140 numbered panels on which the names of the more than 58,000 who perished fighting the war are engraved.
The wall was created in 1996 by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for the purpose of being able to travel to all communities in the United States.
The memorial will allow for residents to make rubbings of individual names.
“We are making a volunteer committee through Because of the Brave in order to make sure we can prepare everything for the event,” Falk said. “We will need to be able to help with everything from getting the word out about the wall to building a handicapped accessible ramp. It’s going to take a lot of work, but I am so excited to have it come back.”
Because of the Brave is partnering with the Bozzuto’s Hometown Foundation and the Town of Cheshire to display the wall at Bartlem Park from June 2 to 6. Other businesses, such as Mission BBQ, will be at the event when the wall first arrives.
“This Traveling Memorial stands as a moving reminder of the great sacrifices made during the Vietnam War,” explained Jeff Falk, Hayley’s father, who served as a U.S. Navy officer and as president of Because of The Brave. “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 (D.C).”
It is Hayley Falk’s hope that the wall’s return to town will not only teach the newer generations about the Vietnam War, but also help them make a real-life connection to something that they might have only learned about through books or documentaries.
“Kids my age forget why it’s important to remember our veterans and why we need to remember the events that happened in the past,” Falk said. “Having the wall back will make an impact on a lot of people.”