WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Sunday was the last day for western Massachusetts residents to visit the Wall That Heals at the Big E fairgrounds.
Western Massachusetts residents honored Vietnam veterans in West Springfield this week at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds by visiting The Wall That Heals, which is a traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial.
Vietnam veteran Henry Kosmider told 22News, “It’s tough to see all those guys out there that never made it home, never had a chance to go through what I went through. It’s really something to see.”
It cost $7,000 upfront for the Wall to come to West Springfield, but the entire event cost about $40,000, which was made out of private donations.
About 10,000 people visited over the four days it was there.
Western Massachusetts is one of about 60 communities that the Wall That Heals will visit throughout the year. Event organizers say it normally takes about four to five hours to put up the wall, but it only took three hours here, because there were so many volunteers.
Veterans told 22News that the Wall That Heals is so significant because it gives them an opportunity to pay tribute in person without having to travel to Washington, D.C. where the Vietnam Memorial is located.
West Springfield resident and Vietnam veteran Norman Burns told 22News, “It’s a chance for some closure to come and remember their friends, family members coming to remember their loved ones for people that can’t get down there because it is an expensive trip.”
Many of those who spearheaded the year long process of getting the Wall that Heals to come to West Springfield are veterans themselves that said it’s time for the recent generations to give back.
John Paradis of the Wall That Heals Planning Committee told 22News, “This is our turn now, and we need to step up to the plate. Our generation needs to say thank you to these Vietnam Veterans who have been there for us.”
The Wall That Heals is inscribed with 58,300 names of those that died or are missing from the Vietnam War.
Their names will continue to be read and remembered across that nation.