Traveling replica of Vietnam wall to visit Ocean Pines, hoping to heal

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OCEAN PINES, Md. — The picturesque Worcester County Veterans Memorial will serve as a host venue in late April for “The Wall That Heals” — a traveling exhibit that honors the more than 3 million Americans who served in the U.S. armed forces during the Vietnam War.

A traveling three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., that tours the country with a mobile Education Center, The Wall That Heals bears the names of the 58,279 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.

The exhibit will be at the Ocean Pines memorial, at Md. 589 and Cathell Road, April 22-25.

The initial response to calls for volunteers and motorcycle escorts has been immense.

Dagsboro, Delaware, resident Frank Bolen Sr., a proud U.S. Marine sergeant who served in Vietnam in 1968-69, is heading up the volunteer corps.

“I need 160 total volunteers, (and) I’ve got most of them filled,” said Mr. Bolen. “I have got a lot of things covered already.”

As of early March, volunteer opportunities remain to assist guests in obtaining a name-rubbing off the mobile wall. “If somebody wants a rubbing of their loved ones, they rub it, and it shows up on paper,” Mr. Bolen said.

Help will also be needed at the entrance, to welcome visitors and direct guests to locations of specific names on the wall.

Those interested in volunteering may contact Mr. Bolen at 539-1428 or via email at frankieb@mchsi.com.

Opening ceremonies are scheduled April 22 at 11 a.m. Also, there will be a candlelight ceremony at 7 p.m. April 24.

Public health measures — facial coverings and social distancing — will be taken due to the ongoing pandemic.

“Everybody who volunteers must wear a mask. And any visitors, we’re going (to) ask them to, but we can’t enforce it,” said Mr. Bolen. “We’re going to have six COVID stations set up, tables with sanitizer, wipes. And we are going to try to make sure everybody has a mask on, but we can’t enforce that on our visitors.”

The Wall That Heals — which was last in the region in early October 2019 with a multiday visit at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7234 in Ocean View, Delaware — is comprised of 140 panels. It measures 375 feet in length and more than 7 feet tall at its highest point.

Additionally, the 53-foot trailer that transports The Wall That Heals transforms to become an Education Center that features a timeline of “The War and The Wall” and provides additional information about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

On full days during its visit, the exhibit will be open round the clock. “It will be open 24 hours a day, and we will have people there,” said Mr. Bolen. “Every name that is in Washington, D.C., will be on this panel.”

The wall is slated to make a grand entrance April 20 via a motorcycle escort from Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury. The decorated tractor-trailer is scheduled to leave the stadium at 3:30 p.m., travel east on U.S. 50, turn up Md. 589 and then proceed to the memorial in Ocean Pines.

“From what I have heard, there is over 200 bikes right now,” said Mr. Bolen. “They’ve got a lot of schoolkids, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, whoever, who are going to line the streets in Ocean Pines, and we’re going to go right by them.”

This exhibit is made possible financially through the Worcester County Veterans Memorial, Mr. Bolen added.

Additional displays give visitors a better understanding of the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the collection of items left there.

They include:

• “Hometown Heroes” — Photos of service members on the wall who list their homes of record in the local area. The photos are part of the effort to put a face to every name on the wall and for the “Wall of Faces.”

• “In Memory Honor Roll” — Photos of local Vietnam veterans honored through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s In Memory program, which honors those who returned home and later died of war-related illnesses.

For more information, visit The Wall That Heals' website.