Traveling copy of Vietnam Wall is rushed to D.C. from Oregon after Mall shutdown


Army Vietnam veteran Dwight Holliday remembers a fallen friend at the original Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. on November 11, 2010. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

When Jan C. Scruggs, creator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, realized that the government shutdown would restrict access to the famous memorial on the Mall last week, he ordered up a replacement.

Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, summoned the fund’s traveling half-scale model of the wall from Corvallis, Ore.

The metal copy was trucked across the country, arrived in Washington on Monday and was erected Monday evening on the campus of Georgetown University.

Starting Tuesday, the model — called “The Wall That Heals” — was open to the public outside Georgetown’s Healy Hall.

The black wall is 250 feet long and made of powder-coated aluminum.

“It is an exact replica of the wall,” said fund spokesman Lee A. Allen. “The names are on the same panels, in the same rows, as they would be on the [real] wall.”

The metal wall is stored and transported around the country in a special truck so veterans and others who cannot get to Washington can see what the wall is like.

The black stone memorial contains the names of more than 50,000 people who died in the Vietnam War.

Free Georgetown shuttles are available to transport visitors from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site to the campus. “The Wall That Heals” will remain on the campus through Columbus Day weekend.

While the memorial on the Mall is technically closed and the entrances have been barricaded, scores of tourists have moved, or climbed over, the barricades to enter.

At the same time, there have been reports that Park Police have periodically shooed visitors away.

“If we can’t open it, we just bring in a replica!” Scruggs said in an e-mail. “This really is an outrage. Thumbs up for Georgetown! Go Hoyas!”

“Offers to knock over the barricades do keep coming in,” he wrote. “Can’t we just allow Americans to enjoy the Wall?”

“We all agree that people should have unlimited access to the memorials on the National Mall,” he said in a statement issued by the fund.

“Until that access is restored by Congress, we will continue doing all we can to make sure visitors can experience the Wall,” he said.

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said in the statement: “We are honored to partner with the [fund] to host this memorial at Georgetown. We hope that visitors . . . who are affected by the closure of the National Mall, will visit our campus to experience this extraordinary replica and remember those it honors.”

Mike is a general assignment reporter who also covers Washington institutions and historical topics.
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