PALMDALE – The “AV Wall,” a half-scale size tribute monument of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be displayed this year from Nov. 10 through 15 at the Palmdale Amphitheater, located at 2723 Rancho Vista Boulevard.
The display will coincide with the Veterans Day holiday period and is a partnership between Point Man Antelope Valley and the city of Palmdale.
This year’s theme for display of the AV Wall is “Honoring the Gold Star families of the Vietnam War,” a tribute to those immediate family members who lost a loved one during one of America’s longest wars.
“We are reaching out and want the community’s assistance in helping us find Gold Star families of the Vietnam War period so that we can recognize and honor them,” said Stacia Nemeth, a key volunteer in organizing the AV Wall display.
“Losing a loved one in war is something very few people can understand, but each of us can show appreciation to the Gold Star families by attending the ceremonies and expressing compassion for their loss,” stated Palmdale’s Recreation Supervisor Annie Pagliaro.
AV Wall events
Friday, Nov. 11. Palmdale’s Veterans Day Ceremony will take place at the AV Wall display at 11 a.m. The guest speaker will be Ellie Kay, a military spouse and founder of Heroes at Home, a non-profit organization that helps military members and their families. Bobby Breech will sing the National Anthem; The Salvation Army Brass Band will perform; and The Sunday Night Singers will sing their rousing rendition of “The Armed Forces Medley” to celebrate all veterans in attendance. Vietnam veterans will receive a Vietnam Veteran lapel pin in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Saturday, Nov. 12. A Candlelight Memorial Walk is scheduled for 9 p.m., honoring Gold Star Family members in attendance and local soldiers whose names are on the wall (The AV 76). As each soldiers name is read, a candle will be placed by a family or community member at the appropriate wall panel.
Sunday, Nov. 13. The Gold Star Family Recognition Ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Hailey Callison will sing the National Anthem, and the Highland High School JROTC will present the Table of Honor. Representatives from the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration Committee will present certificates and pins from the Certificate of Honor “In Memory Of” program to Vietnam Gold Star Families who register for the ceremony. Guest speakers at this ceremony are two members of the Sons and Daughters in Touch group, Ron Reyes and Susan Mitchell-Mattera, who both lost their fathers in the Vietnam War. They will share their stories of living with their loss and finding hope through their travels to Vietnam. Following the ceremony will be a private reception for Gold Star Families at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Taps will be played by MSgt Gerald Lockwood each night at 10 p.m.
An essay contest is being conducted this year for 4th through 12th grade students to show their understanding and appreciation for veterans and Gold Star Families. One winning essay will be read at each ceremony. [Read more about the contest here.]
About the AV Wall
At a cost of more than $100,000, the AV Wall was built with the aid of $20,000-plus in small change donations made by schoolchildren of the Antelope Valley. Since its debut in 2009, the AV Wall has been displayed across the Antelope Valley and Southern California.
Like the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., the AV’s own Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall has the names of the 58,315 Americans killed in action during the Vietnam War. Visitors may make rubbings of names, leave tokens of tribute, and meet with Vietnam War veterans.
“This is the wall that heals,” stated Mike Bertell, president of Point Man of the Antelope Valley, the veterans organization that is the guardian of the AV Wall.
“This is a wall that brings us together as a nation,” added Bertell, who was a drafted Vietnam combat infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division.
For more information on the AV Wall, call 661-524-6408 or visit www.avwall.org.