The AV Wall, a half-scale tribute to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., will return for display Nov. 10-15 at Palmdale Amphitheater, 2723 Rancho Vista Blvd.
The display will coincide with the Veterans Day holiday period and is being done in partnership with Point Man Antelope Valley and the city of Palmdale, which will celebrate the holiday with a special ceremony scheduled at the amphitheater at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11. The guest speaker that day will be Ellie Kay, a military spouse and founder of Heroes at Home which is a non-profit organization that assists service members and their families.
The AV Wall has the name of the 58,315 Americans killed in action during the Vietnam War. Visitors are encouraged to make rubbings of names and leave tokens of tribute, and meet with local Vietnam War veterans. The theme for the 2016 tribute is “Honoring the Gold Star Families of the Vietnam War” and the event will serve as a tribute to the immediate family members who lost a relative during the war.
“This is the wall that heals,” said Mike Bartell, president of Point Man of the Antelope Valley. The veteran’s organization is the “guardian” of the AV Wall. “This is a wall that brings us together as a nation, said Bartell, who was a combat infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division.
At a cost exceeding $100,000, the AV Wall was built with the aid of more than $20,000 in “small change” donations made by schoolchildren in the Antelope Valley. Since its debut in 2009, the memorial has been displayed throughout Southern California.
“We are reaching out, and want the community’s assistance in helping us find Gold Star Families of the Vietnam War period, so that we can recognize and honor them,” Stacia Nemeth, a local volunteer in organizing the display.
A candlelight memorial walk will take place at 9 p.m. Nov. 12 and as each fallen serviceman’s name is read, a candle will be placed by a family or community member at the appropriate wall panel. Taps will be played by Master Sgt. Gerald Lockwood each night at 10 p.m. At 2 p.m. on Nov. 13, the Gold Star Family Recognition ceremony will take place in which the Highland High School Junior ROTC will present the Table of Honor as well. Representatives of the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration Committee will present certificates and pins from the Certificate of Honor “In Memory Of” program to the Vietnam Gold Star Families who register for the program.
Earlier, local students participated in an essay contest to demonstrate their understanding and appreciation for veterans and Gold Star Families. One winning essay will be read at each ceremony.
For more details, call (661) 524-6408 or visit www.avwall.org.