Moving Wall Visits Plum Island Airport in Honor of Vietnam Veterans

By Caitlin Dowling, Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
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The Moving Wall, a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. will be on display at Plum Island Airport in Newbury from 6 pm Thursday, September 2nd through 6 am Tuesday, September 7th. The replica, which is 252.83 feet long and consists of 58,272 names, has been touring the country since its conception in 1984. Approximately 1,300 people are still unaccounted for prisoners of war (POW’s) and missing in action (MIA). Vietnam Veterans were not honored for their service as they returned home. The idea to create the Moving Wall was originated  by a Vietnam Veteran, John Devitt who while attending the the 1982 dedication in Washington DC, was inspired to share the positive power of “The Wall.” John Devitt, Norris Shears, Gerry Heaver and other Vietnam Veterans built the Moving Wall in order to honor and show gratitude to as many Vietnam Veterans as possible throughout the country.

The Moving Wall procession is scheduled to leave Amesbury Furniture Outlet Thursday between 5 – 5:15 pm and should arrive at Plum Island Airport by 6 pm. The Moving Wall will be escorted to the Plum Island Airport by NEMLAC (NE MA Law Enforcement Council), Patriot Riders, and Amesbury and Newbury police. Residents and tourists are invited to line the procession route and welcome its arrival at the airport. Visitors are also welcome to attend the wall’s opening ceremony on Thursday at 6 pm which will feature a wreath-laying ceremony by decorated Vietnam Veterans, a welcome home ceremony, keynote speakers, and a fly-over by the state police.

The Moving Wall will be available for viewing twenty-four hours a day until its disassembly on Tuesday, September 7th at 6 am. Up to 20,000 are expected to visit this solemn memorial that honors our heroes throughout its stay, including about two thousand area veterans that were personally invited. Volunteers will be onsite twenty-four hours a day assisting visitors as greeters, helping them look up names of the fallen, and escorting them to the correct panel on the Moving Wall. Grief counselors provided by the Lowell Vet Center will also be on hand.

The Moving Wall’s visit to the area is a project ten years in the making for the chief organizer of the event, Dennis Palazzo, who finally secured a date last November. For Palazzo, who has a close friend on the wall, it’s an emotional experience to finally have the opportunity to bring the monument to the area.

“Freedom is not free, it comes with a cost, and the cost is written on that wall,” said Palazzo.

Palazzo and the official host of the Moving Wall, Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming Board of Directors, worked tirelessly with a group of close to 100 volunteers to make this event possible. The outpouring of support from the community to aid Palazzo in bringing this memorial to the area has been huge. He has raised over $20,000 from sponsors, local restaurants and shops are donating meals and goods, the National Guard is supplying a command tent, and Newbury police and firemen are offering up their time pro bono.

“It’s an honor to bring the wall to the area. The names on the wall each represent a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice and never made it home,” said Palazzo.

The article picture are from Moving Wall visits to other cities. From the top of the article to the bottom the locations include: Lewes DE, Cleveland OH and Medway MA. 

Moving Wall Procession Route from Amesbury Furniture Outlet to Plum Island Airport:
Down Market Street to Amesbury Center, continue Up Friend St., go 3/4’s around Rotary onto Main St., continue on Main St. across Route 110, under Route 495, turn Left to stay on Main St., bear Right onto Spofford St., over the Chain Bridge (Newburyport), continue half around the Rotary – 2nd exit – onto Moseley Ave., merge Left onto High St., (Route 113) for about 3.5 miles, turning Left onto Rolfes Lane, (Newbury), turning Right onto Plum Island Airport (ETA a bit before 6:00 p.m.) – with Escort Motorcycles parking on the Airport Runway, in designated area.

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