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 Thursday, Nov. 10, at 5 p.m., through Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 8 a.m., 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.
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,” said Bertell, who was a drafted Vietnam combat infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division.
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.
There will be several events occurring while the AV Wall is on display.
AV Wall events
Nov. 11, Veterans Day Ceremony.
The City of Palmdale’s Veterans Day Ceremony will take place at the display on Friday, Nov. 11, 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 “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.
Nov. 12, Candlelight Walk
A Candlelight Memorial Walk honoring Gold Star Family members in attendance and local soldiers whose names are on the wall (The AV 76) is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 12, at 9 p.m. As each soldier’s name is read, a candle will be placed by a family or community member at the appropriate wall panel.
Nov. 13, Family Recognition Ceremony
The Gold Star Family Recognition Ceremony will take place on Sunday, Nov.13, 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 lost their fathers in the Vietnam War. Following the ceremony, there will be a private reception for Gold Star Families at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Nightly at 10 p.m.
Taps will be played by MSgt Gerald Lockwood each night at 10 p.m.
AV Wall Essay Contest winners
Winners of the 2016 Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall Essay Contest will read their winning entries during the display of the AV Wall. Nicholas Ryan Howlett will read his essay at the Veterans Day Opening Ceremony on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.; Lillian Collado will read her essay at the Candlelight Memorial Walk on Nov. 12 at 9 p.m.; and Persja Moore will read her essay at the Vietnam Gold Star Family Recognition Ceremony on Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.
“The City is proud to honor the Gold Star families of the Antelope Valley and surrounding areas at the events this year,” stated Palmdale’s Recreation Supervisor Annie Pagliaro. “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.”
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, it has been displayed across the Antelope Valley and Southern California.
For more information on the AV Wall, call 661-524-6408 or visit www.avwall.org.
[Information via news release from the city of Palmdale.]