The aluminum wall ran horizontally along the bricks of East Exchange Avenue, rising from ground level on the ends to around five feet tall in the middle. The wall includes the names of the more than 58,000 men and women who were killed or listed as missing during the Vietnam War.
The names are listed by day of casualty. They read from the center to the right-hand side, pick up on the far end of the left side, and meet back in the middle to create a circle.
The Wall that Heals is meant to create an open atmosphere that allows veterans to talk to others about shared experiences.
“Sometimes it can be agitating to talk to someone who wasn’t there,” said Patrick O’Neill, the exhibit’s on site manager.
On Thursday, visitors flowed throughout the exhibit, paying homage to people they had never met.
“It’s hard to say the price of your freedom, you stand around and see that 58,000 plus people died for your freedom,” said Becky, who didn’t want to give her last name.
The traveling wall is accompanied by an education center that contains memorabilia and photographs of those whose names are on the wall.
This part of the exhibit is to help the younger generation and those we weren’t there remember, O’Neill said.
Flatscreens lined the education center and showed pictures of all of those who are on the wall, reminding visitors that these men used to be kids as well.
An iPad was also available for visitors to look up any specific person.
The wall visits 40 cities a year, stopping for around a week at each one and the 250-foot exhibit generally gets around 4,000 to 5,000 visitors at each stop, O’Neill. said