The traveling memorial honoring those who gave their lives for our country while serving in Vietnam will be in Central Illinois for five days this month. Arriving with a formal motorcycle escort, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will be on display Wednesday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 27 in East Peoria’s Levee Park in the 400 block of West Washington Street. This will be the first time East Peoria has hosted the traveling memorial wall.
The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall is a 3/5-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It stands 6 feet tall at the center and is almost 300 feet long. As of 2011, there are 58,272 names on the wall, the same as the Washington, D.C. wall.
Volunteer opportunities are available for the formal motorcycle escort and to set up and take down the display.
The wall will arrive in East Peoria between 9:30 – 10 am Wednesday, Sept. 23. It will take volunteers about four hours to assemble the wall, which has 142 sections consisting of two panels each.
Those who want to help assemble or take down the wall should be age 18 or older and able to do the physical activity of setting up or taking down the display. Set-up is set for Wednesday, Sept. 23 from 10 am – 3 pm and the wall will be disassembled Sunday, Sept. 27 from 2 – 5 pm. To volunteer, email event co-chairman Dan Decker at [email protected]
Quiet Pride Motorcycle Club, comprised of current and former military personnel, is organizing the formal escort of the wall into East Peoria, assisted by the East Peoria Police, Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department and Illinois State Police. Those wanting to be involved with the escort should email their name and phone number to Ron Hawotte at [email protected]
An opening ceremony will occur at noon Sept. 24. Featured will be the posting of colors by the Tazewell Military Rites Team, the Star Spangled Banner performed by East Peoria violinist Elise Ahrens, the Missing Man Table and Honors Ceremony conducted by the Pekin Junior ROTC, and remarks by Brig. Gen. Clayton Moushon and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Harold Arthur “Hal” Fritz.
Moushon, of East Peoria, serves as the first Air National Guard assistant to the commander, Legal Operations Agency. Fritz, of Peoria, is a recipient of the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Vietnam War. During a firefight and despite serious wounds, Fritz continued leading and fighting alongside his platoon against a strong enemy attack, and the enemy fighters eventually withdrew.
The display will be open 24 hours a day, and social distancing guidelines will be observed. Admission is free.
During the memorial’s appearance, volunteers will man a book listing the location of each name on the wall and materials to make etchings of the names will be available. Fondulac District Library will have displays about the Vietnam War in the lobby of the Civic Plaza building adjacent to Levee Park.
A brief closing ceremony at noon on Sunday, Sept. 27 will feature a 21-gun salute and the retirement of the colors.
Community donations funded the wall’s appearance. Funds received beyond will benefit the Greater Peoria Honor Flight. The group transports veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the national memorial sites and representatives will be on hand while the wall is in town with information about becoming involved with the organization.
For more information about the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, visit www.cityofeastpeoria.com