Ceremony for The Traveling Vietnam Wall Set For Friday

The City of Prescott is partnering with The Prescott Gateway Mall, Operation Welcome Home, the AZ Wall Project and the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System to sponsor the display of The Traveling Vietnam Wall from March 19 through March 22, 2015, near Dillard's at The Prescott Gateway Mall, at 3250 Gateway Boulevard in Prescott, Arizona.

The Wall will open to the public on Thursday, March 19, at 1:30 p.m. with a small ceremony. A larger ceremony will take place Friday, March 20, at 5:30 p.m.

The Traveling Vietnam Wall, an American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT), provides an opportunity for communities across the country to pay homage to those servicemen and servicewomen who were lost or killed in the Vietnam War. The Wall is 360 feet long and 8 feet high at the apex, an 80 percent scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.

Like the original, The Traveling Vietnam Wall chronologically lists the names of more than 58,000 Americans known to have died or who were declared missing during the conflict in Southeast Asia that ended 40 years ago.

AVTT, based in Flint, Texas, is a veteran-owned project committed to travel the USA to honor, respect and remember those who served and pay specific tribute to those who gave all. They provide the wall, crew and expertise for the traveling memorial. AVTT's Traveling Memorial Wall, the largest Wall replica traveling the USA, was completed in early 1998 and began traveling that year.

The City of Prescott partnered with the Gilbert-based organization Operation Welcome Home AZ (OWH) to bring the Wall to the community. OWH's mission is to create a culture of patriotism and respect for the military which they do through ceremonies that honor military personnel, education curriculum in the schools, and other programs.

Additionally, OWH is a part of the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War partnership with the Department of Defense. Because of this partnership, OWH started the AZ Wall Project – which endeavors to bring a permanent Vietnam Wall to the Valley. AVTT is the vendor for the permanent tribute Wall.

"We saw this as a perfect opportunity to not only showcase the City of Prescott and The Prescott Gateway Mall's dedication to the veteran community, but also to gain new exposure for AZ Wall Project and the beautiful veterans park and education center we are building in Gilbert, Arizona," said Lisa Rigler the President of Operation Welcome Home AZ and Chair of the AZ Wall Project.

The wall will arrive in Prescott on Wednesday, March 18, escorted by a motorcycle procession including numerous Patriot Guard Riders and will be erected on Thursday, March 19, by volunteers. Once the exhibit opens at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, the Wall will be accessible to visitors around the clock until it closes on Sunday, March 22.

"We're grateful for many things here in Prescott, but certainly for the many veterans who impact our community every day," said Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall. "From raising a flag at a football game, to wearing an armed services hat around town, to sharing memories with their friends and family, veterans remind us of their continued devotion to our country and of the sacrifices they made that provided for the freedoms we enjoy today. We are honored to be the hosting city for this memorial that stands as a reminder of the great sacrifices made during the Vietnam War."

"We are honored to host The Traveling Vietnam Wall," said Zeshan Tabani, Vice President of The Prescott Gateway Mall Ownership. "We are proud of our commitment to the community and we look forward to paying tribute to our American heroes and their families who have sacrificed so much for the freedom that many of us take for granted."

"We are indebted to our Vietnam Veterans and this wall reminds our community of their sacrifices and that the price of freedom is not free," said Ms. Donna K. Jacobs, Northern Arizona VA Health Care System Director.

The Northern Arizona VA Health Care System (NAVAHCS) provides care to over 25,000 Veterans. Vietnam Veterans are the fastest growing era of new Veterans seeking VA care. Almost 15,000 Vietnam Veterans are receiving care at NAVAHCS.