Solace, healing, respect: The Wall That Heals, replica of the Vietnam War Memorial, arrives Sept 7
Forty-one of the 58,281 names on the Vietnam Wall Memorial – names of those who perished in the war - hail from York County.
A 375-foot replica, called The Wall that Heals will be installed on Route 109 in south Sanford, across from Walmart and Lowes, Sept. 7 to 10. It will officially open Thursday morning Sept. 7 and will remain open all day and all night through 2 p.m. on Sunday Sept. 10.
A ceremony is set for 2 p.m. at the site on Thursday Sept. 7.
Folks are encouraged to stop, trace their fingers over the names, take rubbings and reflect.
The Wall that Heals is free and open to all – veterans, family members, and friends of those who perished in service to their country in the war that took so many lives and saw little peace for those who came home. It is open to young and old, to those who remember the war and those who want to learn about it and their neighbors who served.
The Wall that Heals is hosted by Sanford Elks #1470, with help from Amvets, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Wolves Club, and others.
Elks Project Chair Dawna Legere said the initiative originally began in another form some years ago. The Elks raised $10,000 for a bus to take area veterans to the Vietnam War Memorial, typically called “The Wall,” in Washington, D.C. The covid pandemic ended that endeavor – but Legere heard about The Wall That Heals and applied to have it come to Sanford.
“I wanted to bring the community together for this project,” said Legere, who remembers a trip to the airport with her family years ago to collect her uncle, Massachusetts resident Richard Bennett, who was returning from a tour of duty in the war in Vietnam.
“If it helps one veteran heal, I feel I’ve done my job,” said Legere. “Hopefully this would be a start of healing – and a welcome home ceremony for them.”
The accompanying mobile education center contains photos of service members, an honor roll of those who returned from the war but later died, displays of items left at The Wall in Washington, and more.
The traveling exhibit honors the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in the Vietnam War, and it bears the names of the 58,281 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
York County Commission Chair Richard Dutremble said the replica wall is very welcome here, and its presence honors those who died serving their country – and those who came home.
“It’s a nice thing to have The Wall that Heals come to the county to honor all the people who died and all the people who served in Vietnam,” said Dutremble. “This is a good way to show respect to them.”
Legere said volunteers are welcome, particularly following the closure at 2 p.m. on Sunday Sept. 10 to help take the project down in preparation for its next stop in New York. To sign up, go to: https://thewallthathealssanfordme.org.
According to information online at the Vietnam War Memorial website, those from York County who died in the war and whose names are etched on the Vietnam War Memorial – and on the replica that is coming to Sanford, include: James Richard Dufault and John Wallace Knight of Berwick; Raymond Arthur Borduas, Robert Norman Dechene, Herve Joseph Guay, Roger Edward Labonte, Reynald Gerard Lepage and Norman Gerald Joseph Poitras of Biddeford; Donovan Keith Elwell of Buxton; James Paton Nicholson and Robert James Wiggin of Eliot; Vaughan Shaw Morgan, Milan Elmer Whitten, and Robert Emery Wills, Hollis; Thomas Wayne Bazemore and Robert Lester Berry, Kennebunk; Terry Francis Drown, Kennebunkport; Freddy Alford McGee and Larry Aime D’Entremont, Kittery; Robert Lee Baker and Richard John Stewart, Lebanon; Fred William Morrill, Limerick; Lyle Gibson Brooks, Ogunquit; Stephen Louis Bean, Paul Edward Belanger and David Marius Duranceau, Saco; David Harold Alexander, William Robert Batchelder, John Harold Cash, Paul Leo Cyr, Richard Paul Glaude, and Michael Richard Pickles, Sanford/Springvale; James William Cleary and Raymond Lyn Collier, South Berwick; Lloyd Burton Haskell Jr., Harry Clifton Shepard Jr., Waterboro; Wayne Robert Elkins, Stephen Francis Gray, Miles Robert Gregoire, Wells; and Ronald Allen Parsons and Robert B. Young of York.