By Sarrah Peters
On Thursday, May 11 “The Moving Wall” will arrive in Gadsden. It will be on display outside Gadsden Convention Hall until May 15. You can visit the wall from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., but it will be guarded 24 hours a day. Veterans that are sensitive to crowds and noise are welcome to visit any time.
The Moving Wall will hold an opening ceremony on May 11 at 12 p.m. The ceremony will include the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department posting the colors and a 21 gun salute. Glencoe Mayor and Vietnam veteran Charles “Peanut” Gilchrist will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. John Graham will unveil signs and read a proclamation. Rick Vaughan will tell attendees more about the wall and welcome veterans.
“The Moving Wall” is a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. The D.C. wall is more than 500 feet long and displays the names of the over 58,000 men and women who died in Vietnam. Many Etowah County soldiers were among those that did not return, including Carl Elmus Adkinson, Ivy T. Anderson, Jerry Scruggs Baker, Melvin Baker, Arthur Clay Ballew, Lewis Cecil Barnard, Richard Dewayne Bearden, Harold David Bowlin, Arthur Milton Bradberry, Claude M. Burgess, Harold Carstarphen, Jr., Randall Kelvin Clements, Donald L. Cline, Guy T. Cochran, Jerry I. Collier, Thomas F. Cook, Jr., Tommy Damron, Michael Edward Davis, Jimmie Bryson Denney, Donald W. Dixon, Thomas David Duncan, Howard E. Entrekin, Jr., William Edwin Ferguson, Jack A. Findley, Glenn Edward Ford, Auburn Wood Foreman, Jr., David P. Franklin, David Harold Freeman, Jackie Wayne Garner, Freddie Bee Glover, Larry Wayne Greer, Clyde Wendell Hanson, Ralph R. Harrison, Jr., Kenneth Edward Heath, Robert Lee Hilley, James L. Holland, Alton L. Hornbuckle, Larry Frank Hunt, William Clarence Jenkins, Thomas Dewitt Jones, James E. Joshua, Jr., Ralph Max Knight, Howard S. Lamb, Charles L. Lamberth, Richard E. Latimer, Jr., Charles R. Latta, Sidney Lamar Leonard, Charles Edward Martin, Billy I. Maroney, Dalton R. Marslender, James R. Mathis, Anthony M. Mayo, Grady E. McBride, III, Charles William McLeod, Jerry Wayne McNabb, Lewis Edward Milam, Ormond Mitchell Miller, Roger Tilton Nelson, Benjamin H. Reese, Jr., Glenn Edward Sanders, James David Smith, Ricky Gene Smith, Johnny Green Stamps, James M. Stanley, Joe Harry Stanley, Bing F. Stephens, Charles Allen Stovall, Finis R. Studdard, Olin D. Tant, George T. Wilkerson, Acton R. Williams, Harold C. Willis, Raymond Conluis Willis and Jerry E. Wooten.
“The Moving Wall” was John Devitt’s idea, as he saw the original memorial’s 1982 dedication and wanted to share the experience with others. Devitt, Norris Shears, Gerry Haver and other Vietnam veteran volunteers built The Moving Wall. It was displayed for the first time in Tyler, Texas in October of 1984. Two Moving Walls now exist, and travel throughout the country.
To bring The Moving Wall to Gadsden, the Gadsden-Etowah Patriots Association partnered with Greater Gadsden Area Tourism and The Chamber of Gadsden and Etowah County. The wall may never have been able to come to the city without the many people and organizations that donated. Sponsors include the cities of Gadsden, Attalla, Southside, Rainbow City, Glencoe, Hokes Bluff, Altoona and Reece City; local government officials Senator Phil Williams, Rep. Becky Nordgren, Rep. Mack Butler, Rep. Craig Ford, the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department and the Etowah County Commission; VFW Post 10408 and 2760; the Military Officers Association; and many local businesses, including Alley’s Carpet, McDonalds, Team One Toyota, Modern Woodmen, Pack’s Nursery and more.
A special thank you was given to Ronnie Watkins, who donated in honor of his brother, who served in Vietnam.