In the past, Naperville honored its veterans through the Healing Fields of Honor on Rotary Hill. This year, in addition to the flag display, the committee adopted a new theme.
“When we first met, and we do this every three years, and this is the second time I’ve been involved with it, we were looking for a theme. The department of defense has this program out called the 50th year commemoration of the Vietnam War, the start of the war. So I kind of laid that out in the group and right away somebody said, ‘well why don’t we call our theme 50 years of healing?’” said committee member Wayne Fischer.
The committee looked into renting a moveable version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., but the $10,000 price tag was slightly out of reach. But that didn’t stop committee member Ray Kinney from proposing that they simply build one themselves.
“What we did first is we measured our site here and we found out we had about 250 lineal feet of available space for the wall and so it worked out to be about a 60% scaled down version. And so this wall is actually 240 feet long,” said Park Operations Manager Chuck Papanos.
Now all they had to do is place over 58,000 names, exactly as they appear on the original wall. Kinney, and his company Blooming Color, donated their printing services to replicate each panel.
“The printing of it, it’s a flat bed UV coder, UV printer, so as the sub-straight, which is a max metal, it’s a piece of actually metal that goes through the printer, the printer heads go back and forth over it 16 times as it’s laying down the different colors to emulate the marble background. And actually the names are white, so it’s actually the color of the sub-straight showing through,” said Kinney.
The structure is a testament to a community who recognizes that freedom isn’t free. And while the wall represents those whose lives were lost in Vietnam, it’s hard to know just how far its impact will reach.
“It’ll be their own experience, and it’ll be different for everybody as long as they take time to really look at those names. Each one is a story. We’re going to read bios of the 11 men with a Naperville connection but that’s only a brief pile. There’s a lot more to their stories but every man and woman on the wall has a story,” added Fischer.
Naperville’s Vietnam Memorial Wall will be on display until November 13th. There will be continuous security during its display, and Veterans will be on sight to answer any questions.
Naperville News 17’s Rachel Pierson reports.
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