By ROB W. ANDERSON
Sequoyah’s high school football field will play host to a special guest this April: The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a national monument in Washington, D.C., and the site honors U.S. military servicemen and women who fought and died or were missing in action during the war. The complex is made up of the Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, a source of many well-known photographs of veterans, family and friends standing in front of the long, tall wall emblazoned with nearly 60,000 names of fallen soldiers.
The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall is a three-quarter-scale replica of the two gabbro walls in Washington that stand 246 feet, 9 inches long and 10.1 feet high and taper to 8 inches at the extremities.
Tahlequah’s Reed-Culver Funeral Home is a part of the largest network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers known as Dignity Memorial and is the lead sponsor for the special exhibit, set for Wednesday, April 17 through Sunday, April 21 at 17091 S. Muskogee Ave.
Reed-Culver Manager Rodney Mattox said the Vietnam Wall will be led into town by motorcade April 16.
“We’re going to meet the semi at Big Cabin, and the staging will be at 9:30 [a.m.] and we’ll be leaving at 10,” he said. “We’re going to have motorcycles, and we’ve had some antique car clubs contact us. It’s going to come down U.S. Highway 69 all the way into Muskogee to the Shawnee Bypass and U.S. Highway 62 into Tahlequah to Sequoyah’s football field.”
The five-day event is free to the public, 24 hours a day, while the traveling exhibit is on display at the Sequoyah Schools campus. The Dignity Memorial replica wall stands 8 feet high and is 240 feet long, and presents the black, reflective surface inscribed with the names of soldiers who died or are still unaccounted for. Materials for rubbings, or pencil etchings, will be made available to patrons who wish to take away a memory.
Northeastern State University English lecturer and U.S. Navy veteran Tony Oseland said the NSU Student Veterans Association will be volunteering at the wall as part of the group’s community service work. Because the exhibit is a 24-hour event, several volunteers are needed to help fill the four-hour shifts, he said.
“Anybody who’s a veteran or who’s just interested in volunteering can follow the link and fill out the form [on] the [Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall website],” O’seland said.
O’seland said volunteers are starting to come in, but more is needed.
“I’ve got about a dozen so far, and we need close to 100,” he said. “You can never have too many volunteers, until we start tripping over each other. We’re breaking it down into shifts of about four hours.”
Anyone who wants to be part of the initial staging of the moving wall should contact Pastor Garland Thomas at New Life Worship Center, (918) 456-8500. Those who want to volunteer at the wall should fill out the form at www.dmvietnamwall.com/Oklahoma.