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The Wall That Heals coming to Farmington

Vietnam War memorial will be on display at San Juan College
Viewers gather at twilight to view The Wall That Heals at a previous location in 2019. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be in Farmington on Sept. 9-12. (Christopher Knotts/Courtesy of The Wall That Heals)

FARMINGTON – A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, called The Wall That Heals, will arrive next week in Farmington.

The wall is a mobile replica of the permanent memorial in Washington, D.C., that is moved throughout the country and set up for people to visit.

“Bringing the wall home to communities throughout our country allows the souls enshrined on the memorial to exist once more among family and friends in the peace and comfort of familiar surroundings,” the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Fund website said.

Lillian Clopine, chairwoman for The Wall That Heals Farmington 2021, said the replica is 375 feet long, 7½ feet tall and has 58,276 names on it. More than 1,500 service members are unaccounted for, and only eight women are named on the wall.

The average age of those named on the wall is 22 years and 9 months with the youngest name belonging to that of a 15-year-old.

The names are listed by date of casualty and then alphabetically. The day with the most deaths was Jan. 31, 1968.

“It’s to honor their service and those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war,” Clopine said.

The wall will also have a mobile education unit that has information about the Vietnam War. Clopine said the organizers and volunteers will give tours around the unit and provide paper for name rubbings, a technique used to transfer a name on a textured surface to a piece of paper.

Those who visit The Wall That Heals can do name rubbings, as shown here.(Christopher Knotts/Courtesy of The Wall That Heals)

The wall will travel from the previous stop in Brighton and pass through La Plata County before arriving at San Juan College.

The wall will be set up Sept. 8. It will open fully to the public at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 9 and will be open for 24 hours each day it is at the college through midday Sept. 12.

On Sept. 9, there will be an honors ceremony. At 9 a.m. Sept. 11, there will be a Navajo Nation blessing ceremony. Then on Sept. 12, the wall will be disassembled and leave for its next stop, Blackfoot, Idaho.

“That was a very difficult war, a divisive war,” Clopine said. “I can remember the riots and demonstrations. A lot of people thought we shouldn’t be there and then others thought we should be there, so there were a lot of strong feelings associated with that conflict.”

Clopine said veterans returning from Vietnam were not welcomed home “the way they should have been.”

The wall has visited 600 cities, and last year, Farmington was selected by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to become a temporary memorial site. The Farmington community was selected among 28 others across the country.

Clopine said she read an article about a small town in Missouri that was selected to be a stop for the wall and how much the event meant to the area. She decided to pursue the opportunity for the wall to come to Farmington but needed some support.

“It’s a meaningful way to serve our community,” Clopine said.

After Clopine got support from her church, she applied to be on the tour. Because the tour was canceled last year, those cities were given priority to be visited this year. Clopine said she wasn’t expecting to be selected this year.

“In November, when (the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund) made the announcement, we were one of the committees that got a slot for this year,” Clopine said. “We knew that it was very significant that we got a slot since there were so few available this year.”

The Wall That Heals will be at the San Juan College athletic fields from 12:01 a.m. Sept. 9 until 2 p.m. Sept. 12. For more information, visit www.vvmf.org/event/The-Wall-That-Heals-Farmington-NM.

mmitchell@durangoherald.com

This article was republished Sept. 7 to correct the time of the Navajo blessing. The blessing will take place at 9 a.m. at the wall.

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