The traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall has been to 48 states to honor and remember those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. The wall has retired from the road, with the HEARTS Veterans Museum of Texas becoming its permanent home.
On Sunday, March 27, 2022, the Vietnam Memorial Wall was officially dedicated, bringing a more than two-year process to a conclusion, and in doing so, designated Huntsville, Texas, and Washington, D.C., the only two places where the Vietnam War Memorial Wall is permanently displayed.
Among the distinguished guests in attendance was Congressman Kevin Brady (TX-08), who spoke about the importance of this place becoming a hallowed ground to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made for our country.
Giving the wall home and honoring those on the wall and their families would not have been possible without support from the local community, said Kenneth Lee, museum board president and Vietnam Veteran.
"We want all of the kids here to understand that the names on the wall were someone's father, brother, son, and the importance of remembering and honoring them," Tara Burnett, HEARTS Museum executive director, said.
The wall is an 80% replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It contains 58,263 names of known veterans who lost their lives. The wall spans 370 feet across and reaches eight feet tall at the center.
The museum has grown tremendously from its grassroots origin in 1993 as a Veterans Day display in an Antiques Shop window to now permanently hosting the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The museum is filled with memorabilia from local veterans and their families and routinely hosts school tours.
"It's so instrumental in education. It's very important that everyone can come here to see what Veterans have done in the past, what they are doing in the present, and how that Veterans are ordinary people," Lee said.
"You know, taking care of each other and making sure everyone has what they need. That's what this place is all about," Burnett said.
The addition of the Vietnam Memorial Wall stands as a testament to this community's commitment to honoring, remembering and caring for veterans.