Organizers of two Vietnam War memorial events scheduled for this summer are hopeful the ceremonies won’t be thwarted by social distancing restrictions.
Bedford County Commissioner Josh Lang said the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s “The Wall That Heals” exhibit is still set to be in Bedford from July 22-26.
“We’re closely monitoring everything, but I’m very comfortable that we’ll be able to have the Wall That Heals in July,” Lang said.
Bedford was announced as one of 35 stops on The Wall That Heals tour this year. The 375-foot wall will be on display at the Bedford Middle School.
The replica is three-quarter scale of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., standing 7.5 feet tall at its tallest point.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has cancelled some of its early stops on the tour, announcing the locations would be revisited in upcoming years.
Lang said he has been in contact with representatives from the nonprofit organization and remains confident the event will be able to be held in July. He added organizers have discussed potential social distancing measures that can be taken during the event.
“We’re prepared to put in place any measures needed for social distancing,” he said.
Lang said volunteers are still needed to help with the event, particularly those who can help set up and take down the display.
“The main push right now is for people to help set up the wall and take it down,” Lang said.
About 25 to 30 people are needed for setup. Lang said it is a great opportunity for teenagers or organizations, and offers a unique look at the wall.
“You’ll be able to touch the names while it’s being put together,” he said. “I’ve been to D.C. and I’ve been to the Wall That Heals — touching the names and thinking of the faces with those names is very emotional.”
There are still 14 spots for volunteer “ambassadors” to staff the display as well. Lang said the volunteers will work about four-hour shifts during the day and five-hour shifts overnight.
Anyone interested can sign up by going to www.twthbedford2020.org and clicking the “Volunteer” link.
The exhibit honors the more than 3 million Americans who served in the armed forces during the Vietnam War, bearing the names of the 58,276 men and women who died in service in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
The names of 21 Bedford County servicemen are on the wall.
Lang said organizers are working diligently to make the event memorable for the community.
“We want to make the experience as meaningful as we can.”
Another Vietnam War memorial celebration unveiling a Vietnam War Memorial monument statue in Veterans Grove is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 12.
Dennis Tice, representing the League of Pretty Good Guys, said the statue of Everett native Robert Hartsock and his military dog, Duke, is being assembled and nearing completion.
“The bronze cast is now being put together out in Montana,” Tice said, noting the statue is expected to arrive back in Bedford County a little later this summer.
Hartsock, a 1962 Everett High School graduate, was killed in action on Feb. 23, 1969, while saving the life of his platoon commander at Dau Tieng, Vietnam. For his actions, Hartsock was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
The statue was sculpted by Wayne Hyde of Manns Choice.
Tice said about $25,000 is still needed for the $125,000 project. He noted fundraising has slowed during recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“People are pretty preoccupied right now,” he said.
Tice said the League of Pretty Good Guys will meet next week to discuss the September date. He said the group is trying to find a balance between social distancing restrictions and displaying the monument in a timely manner.
“I don’t want to wait six months to have a ceremony,” he said.