COQUILLE — After almost two years of planning and countless meetings, the Travelling Vietnam Wall is now in Coos County. The wall, which is an 80 percent replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall, has been set up at Sturdivant Park in Coquille and will be on display from now until Sunday at noon.
The Coos County Veteran Services is hosting the viewing, “A Celebration of Heroes,” as a way to honor the Vietnam veterans in the community. On Thursday, an opening ceremony was held which featured a dedication from Chief Warren Brainard of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, several Vietnam veteran speakers and a musical performance by the Coquille High School Band.
Among its schedule, the ceremony also showcased a posting of colors by the Bandon VFW Honor Guard, the Coquille VFW, the Myrtle Point VFW Honor Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard. A letter was also read aloud from U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, who was not able to attend to the event.
“I have just seen so many heartbroken Vietnam veterans in my career so it’s been my passion to make this happen,” said Barye Bluth, Coos County Veteran Service Officer. “We’ve had a really hard-working and great team that’s helped so much.”
At the park, visitors were given the option to either look up the names of fallen Vietnam veteran by using one of two locator booths or do a general viewing of the wall up close. Volunteer Gloria Brown, of Myrtle Point, was among those helping search for names on the wall.
Using a computer, Brown has been able to identify exact coordinates of a name to inform visitors where to look. The booths also handed out pieces of paper to those wanting to trace names off of the wall. Brown’s husband Randy, a Vietnam veteran, was also in attendance and spoke about how impactful the day has been.
“I haven’t cried yet,” said Randy. “But, it’s been hard seeing the plaques on the flag poles of the names of veterans who were killed in action from Coos County. It’s been emotional.”
As Brown mentioned, the event also featured several plaques with the names of those who served in Vietnam from Coos Bay, North Bend, Myrtle Point, Coquille, Bandon, Powers, Charleston and Lakeside. An emotional support booth was also provided, which was staffed with volunteer grief counselors from Coos Health and Wellness.
The replica is 360 feet long and about 8 feet tall. It features over 58,000 names of veterans who lost their lives as a result of the Vietnam War. The names were engraved by a USMC Vietnam Veteran and the wall is made out of anodized aluminum.
“It’s just such a stunning representation of so much loss,” said Bluth. “We need to honor them and really respect the sacrifice they’ve made.”