AVA, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson was in Ava, Missouri, Saturday to honor those listed on “The Wall That Heals”.
It’s almost an exact replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall that stands in Washington.
The wall came to Ava from Fairfield, Iowa.
Dozens of people showed up to pay their respects, watch the governor’s speech and listen to the family members of the six Vietnam war veterans who died, whose names are carved in this stone.
“It’s important for us to be able to bring this to these towns so those veterans who can’t make it to DC,” explained Julianna Blaylock, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site manager, “those families who can’t make it to DC can have the opportunity to come and to heal.”
“We spent a few days in DC, touring around, we missed the wall, scheduling, and a big crowd, we just didn’t get to go,” said Kevin Overholt, a participant. “So I was glad to hear it was going to come here, it’s been great, a powerful experience, powerful feeling.”
Participants said how thankful they are to have the wall in town for a few days.
“Very emotional. It just breaks my heart,” said a participant. “All the people that were killed over there for no reason. Thank god that this little bitty town, and all the work it took to get it here.”
Blaylock explained how they brought in the wall on Tuesday.
“We escorted it in with over 500 motorcycles and vehicles in the escort,” Blaylock explained, “it was the largest one I’ve ever seen personally, which is really great.”
The replica wall itself has more than 58,000 names and stretches 375 feet long.
“They’re ordered in chronological order by date of death, and they start and end at the apex, the highest point,” said Blaylock.
Parson also showed up to pay his respects for the Vietnam war veterans.
“America owes a debt of gratitude to the soldiers who gave their lives defending our freedom,” said Parson.
A participant said, “I just couldn’t believe that such a small town like this would bring something like this into Ava.”
“I think anytime the heart and soul of Missouri are in these small towns all across here, and when you see the respect and patriotism they have here in these towns,” said Governor Parson, “just like today you’re in Ava, Missouri, you look out and you see how good a crowd this is, how many people are here. Showing respect for the veterans of this country.”
Out of the over 58,000 names, eight of them are women and the youngest person on the wall was only 15.
After Ava, the wall will travel to Middletown, Indiana.