DACULA - The Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, known simply as "The Wall," is one of the most visited landmarks in Washington, D.C. Etched in granite are the names of the more than 58,000 soldiers who fought and died in the Vietnam War.
Every year, thousands of Americans visit The Wall to remember their relatives and friends. But not all Georgians have the chance to see it for themselves. That's why local residents are bringing a replica of it to Dacula for a few days this month.
The Moving Wall has been touring the country since 1984, two years after its founders first saw the national monument in D.C. It is made of aluminum, painted black and is half the size of the original Wall.
It will be erected outside the Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula starting noon on April 27, and will stay there until May 1. People will be able to visit it 24 hours a day during that time. They will have a chance to look up by searching in a book registry the names of soldiers who were killed.
"It's great for Vietnam vets who want to remember those they knew who died in the war. The Wall means a lot to us. That's our memorial, especially when you go to the Wall in D.C. I can't even explain it," said Mike Finch, the senior vice commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Lawrenceville.
The Moving Wall has been to Gwinnett twice in the past. It was in Snellville in 1990 and Dacula in 1999. Last year, it spent a few days in Alpharetta, Conyers and Dahlonega.
Marvin Atherton, the coordinator of the project, said he was very moved when the Moving Wall came to Dacula seven years ago. He said it is a good time for the Wall to come to Gwinnett, just a few weeks before Memorial Day. For the past 13 years, he has organized the Memorial Day parade.
"I hope that those who are not able to go to the wall in D.C. will have the opportunity to come to Dacula and see that relative, or see that friend, and pay their respects to them," Atherton said. "I hope that parents will bring their children out to the Moving Wall because it's a piece of American history for those students who may never get to go to D.C. and see it."
An opening ceremony will be held April 28 at 6:30 p.m., and a closing ceremony April 30 at 5 p.m.
There are still volunteers needed for the Moving Wall. Responsibilities include assisting in setting up and taking down the display, watching over it, greeting visitors, helping them locate names and answering their questions.
To volunteer, call Marvin Atherton at 770-367-7371 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Moving Wall's local Web site is located at http://www.daculamemorialday.com/themovingwall.htm.