“The Wall That Heals,” a half-scale traveling facsimile of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is on its way back to the Kansas City area.
The memorial made its first trip to the area in 2010, when it was in Blue Springs. On Thursday, it willarrive at North Kansas City High School
for its second showing. It will remain in the school’s football stadium until July 1, open 24 hours a day for free.
Several ceremonies featuring visits from veterans and nurses who served in Vietnam and Medal of Honor recipients will take place during the four-day showing.
It’s part of North Kansas City’s CentennialFest, scheduled for Wednesday through July 1 to celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary this November. For the schedule of events, go to nkc.org.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the first American combat mission in the Vietnam War.
Four students from the high school’s 1967 graduating class were killed in Vietnam, said Jerry Barham, who helped bring the wall to Blue Springs two years ago. Barham is the owner of Missouri Poster, Banner and Sign, which is sponsoring the exhibition.
The names of Barham’s brother, Larry, and those of six people Barham went to high school with are engraved on the wall.
Barham is a Vietnam veteran, and he lost his brother during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Now, he said, the current conflicts in the Middle East can dredge up old memories.
“But the Wall That Heals, that’s what it’s about,” he said. “We think about those that we lost.”
Next to the exhibit will be a car that once was Larry’s — brand new when he left for the war. Barham drives it sometimes and said it serves as a reminder.
The wall will be escorted from Lathrop, Mo., to North Kansas City by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and 250 to 300 motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard Riders.
Clay County Sheriff Bob Boydston, also a Vietnam veteran, will be among those driving with the exhibit.
“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was a significant event for all of us, but not all of us can get to Washington,” Boydston said. “When I was told that the traveling wall was going to be coming to Clay County, I was thrilled.”