WELLSVILLE – In May 2008, The Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington, DC, came to Wellsville.
The visit to the moving wall was hosted by the American Legion Post 702 and its arrival, setup, and ceremony were recorded by Denis Dahlgren in a book he presented to the Nathaniel Dike Museum last week.
Dahlgren, a former Wellsville teacher, was part of the committee organized by the Morrison Hayes Legion Post to plan the event. He put together a picture book of more than 100 pages – “The Moving Wall: Wellsville, NY, May 2008” – and presented a copy to the Thelma Rogers Genealogical and History Society (TRGHS) on Wednesday for display at the Nathaniel Dike Museum.
In Post 702, the Moving Wall was exhibited under the direction of former Commandant Nate Scott and Aid Organization President Vickie Scott.
Both were present with other members of Post 702 when Dahlgren presented the book to the society that oversees the museum.
“Denis Dahlgren was instrumental in everything we asked for during this time, from extra copies to photography to odd work that was required of him even though he was not a veteran himself,” said Vickie Scott. “His brother served in the Vietnam War and he really appreciated everything that was done to bring the Wall to Wellsville.”
Scott said the book recounts “many unforgettable events that took place over those four days. Post 702 is eternally grateful to him. “
Dahlgren, who is now retired, said COVID-19 and continued shutdowns gave him time to go through his photos and other memorabilia and put the hardcover book together.
Marsha Sick, treasurer and newsletter editor of the TRGHS, described the book as a “wonderful addition” to the museum.
“It is a great honor and it is so great that there is someone on site who takes the time and who has the talent,” she said. “The Legion had such a commitment to do something like (host the wall). It brings a tear to my eyes to think about everything you do. “
The moving wall arrived in Wellsville on May 6, 2008, accompanied by a contingent of Patriot Guard motorcyclists. It was set up by volunteers on a ball field in Island Park. During her stay in Wellsville, the wall was guarded day and night by members of the local service clubs and the public.
The names of the men and women inscribed on the wall were read aloud during the visit.
The moving wall was designed by John Devitt after attending the annual Vietnam Veteran Memorial Ceremonies in Washington in 1982. He wanted to share his experience with those who did not get the opportunity to go to Washington.
Devitt and other Vietnam veterans volunteered to build the moving wall, which was first exhibited in Tyler, Texas, in October 1984.
Two versions of The Moving Wall tour the country from April to November, spending five or six days in each location.
The original Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington is nearly 500 feet long and in a V formation, with one wing facing the Washington Memorial and the other facing the Lincoln Memorial. It is 10 feet tall at its top and tapers to 8 inches at each end.
It was designed by architecture student Maya Lin when she was studying at Yale University after winning a nationwide design competition. The memorial bears the names of the more than 58,000 men and women who were killed in Vietnam in 1956-75.
The National Park Service estimates that around 3 million people visit the National Vietnam Memorial each year.