It Starts at Home
ABC's of Panels
Meticulous Care and Repair
We Need Your Help
Walking through the front door, visitors are blown away with the massive structure and the inside usage of every inch of The Moving Wall Warehouse. It is divided up into very functional spaces with each having its own defined application. There are the work areas and then there are the fun places. I was granted permission by John Devitt to share inside photographs of The Moving Wall warehouse just for this specific purpose on Touch The Wall's web site, July 2009.
At each sponsored event, after the closing ceremony all of the artifacts and memento's that are left at the memorial, each are carefully documented and packed, then sent to the Vietnam Combat Veteran's Moving Wall warehouse for storage. The warehouse in White Pine, Michigan, houses every events' precious cargo and the boxes seem to go on forever.
Whether John, Norris, Joy, Aaron and Lisa are working on a replacement panel or repairing an existing usable panel, it all begins within this huge work area. It boggles the mind listening to John reciting the entire process. You know he has done the processing hundreds of times but in his voice you hear the pride he has when he talks about these panels carrying the names of veterans who he respects and honors. Complimenting on his work, he shrugs it off, it never was for him that he does this work.
In the next to the largest room is the care and repair area for the stencils before they can be silk screened on the panels. Sounds easy right, well touching up the stencils is really a tidiest, back-breaking, eye-straining, bum-numbing, arm-aching, and time-consuming task. It is important as ensuring that names are spelled correctly and the memorial is accurately reflective of the original DC memorial. There are numerous dedicated volunteers that come and help for hours sitting there and touching up the screens - their work is not easy but no one that I met there complained, in fact everyone was actually happily working inch by inch on their entire screen panel. John and Joy have some amazing volunteers that are ready to work whenever Aaron, Lisa, Norris, Joy and John need their help.
However, there is a problem and it's focus is on "when the Memorial is set up in a sponsored hometown." The Moving Wall needs to be treated with more respect. There needs to be more vigilance on the daily visitations.
Each morning the escorts take a considerable amount of time to carefully inspect the panels for scratches or other disfiguring marks and then wax the Wall. Mother nature can always be a unplanned hazard but it is sometimes discouraging when there are preventable disfigurements.
We really need the word to get out that the memorial is vulnerable and watchful eyes are needed to ensure that the Wall is not marred. Using pencils or pens or rubbing names far too hard will flatten these embossed veterans' name. Any publicity about The Moving Wall setting up should repeatedly refer to sponsors having the only authorized carpenter crayons for rubbings. As signs are displayed establishing the tranquility of the memorial grounds, there should also be reminders that absolutely no pencils or pens are ever allowed.
Although teaching children about the Memorial and its veteran have always been a major consideration but children, unfortunately they do not always understand how delicate the panels are. We want our older children to experience the Wall and connecting with a veteran, but it should be done with parental supervision. When large groups of school children visit, it is hard to have that one on one connection. We encourage only children with adult family members are allowed to do a rubbing. Sponsors are instructed to try to maintain a limited exposure during large school groups. However we welcome the child who comes prepared with the information of a family member who is engraved on the Wall or the child who returns to the memorial with their parents.
Like the marble panels at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC, jewelry has become the number one hazard to the memorial. Rings, bracelets (yes even POW/MIA bracelets), cufflinks, watches and cell phone charms scratch the panels. Sometimes these marks cannot be taken out until the memorial concludes at seasons end. Not only is it disheartening to take a damaged panel on the remaining tour set ups but multiple problems are time consuming and expensive to repair.
Nothing should ever be attached to the panels, (i.e., paperclips, scotch tape, putty, or art dots). Also large items should not be leaned up against the metal panels but stood up independently. Any object too close could fall against the panel and scratch it on its descend.
The Moving Wall was developed to travel where residents may not be able to travel to Washington and to celebrate the local town heroes that may have not had the recognition ceremonies honoring the veterans and their families. John, Norris and Gerry did everything they could to design the most authentic, accurate, original, immaculate, first-rate replica to each and every hometown but we need your participation to preserve this most recognized monument. Visiting The Moving Wall should be a personal experience, as Jessica Dirks wrote about her visit to the replica, "Every time, I get it a little more..." Beautifully stated.