The Healing Wall: Sights and Sounds
The Healing Wall, a 3/4 scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is at Madonna Meadows in San Luis Obispo until 2 p.m. Sunday.
It is enormous in stature—375 feet long and 7.5 feet tall—but its significance is far greater than its size.
The names of just under 200 veterans from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Monterey counties are on the wall. Many veterans in the area know of a Vietnam veteran who died during the conflict.
“Jerry has relatives on the wall. Michael has people he knows on the wall,” Dennis Hennessy, a local Vietnam veteran, said of his friends Jerry Kaufman and Michael Knight, who are also veterans.
The Healing Wall has been traveling the country for almost 2/3 of a year, with San Luis Obispo as the first stop in 2023.
“Even if you lived in the Vietnam era, you saw a little microcosm of what was going on when you turned on the news,” said Tim Tetz, an on-site staff member at The Wall That Heals. “When you were in Vietnam, you saw even less.”
Tours of the Healing Wall and Education Center shed more light on the controversial war.
“With the screens and the technology we have, we can pull up their images in the app and they can see them for the first time. It brings this whole story together,” Tetz said. “It’s the magic you see when you see the wall in Washington, D.C., but you don’t have to go there. You can have that experience here.”
“In 2009, 2010, I had a small reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting platoon in Afghanistan, and it was our local VVA, the Vietnam Veterans of America, that sent my men and me care packages. We lived very far away by today’s standards, and those aid packages meant everything, said Morgan Boyd, a veterans services officer for San Luis Obispo County. “This is just my way of thanking not only the veterans, but our community for their support.”
“There are 58,281 names. The people we served with are on the wall and it’s an honor to remember them after all these years,” Hennessy said. “It was a rough time when we were coming home in the ’60s, in the ’70s.”
They never received a special welcome home.
“It’s an honor to remember these people now,” Hennessey said.
The A wall that heals staff say opening day numbers were above average and consistent. If the weather cooperates, they expect numbers to jump Friday evening through the weekend.