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UPDATE: Wall’s arrival caps year-long efforts of Korean War veteran

Posted: September 25, 2013 11:45 a.m.
Updated: September 25, 2013 6:39 p.m.

Chuck Morris at the Westfield Valencia Town Center parking lot site of the traveling wall was wrangling volunteers and coordinating set-up well before the wall's arrival today. Signal photo by Jim Holt

Of all the chores and challenges Chuck Morris has encountered bringing the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall to the Santa Clarita Valley, the most difficult task may be reining in emotions.

“The way Vietnam vets were treated so horribly, I wanted to do something, and the only thing I could think of to do was bring this wall here so people could remember the horrors that happened at the Vietnam war,” Morris said.

“That’s the reason I wanted to bring it here.”

Morris’s year-long labor to bring the replica of the actual Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., to the Santa Clarita Valley came to fruition Wednesday.

The wall arrived aboard a truck Wednesday afternoon at a corner of the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall parking lot near Citrus Street and Magic Mountain Parkway. There it will remain through Sunday, thanks to the efforts of both Morris and the Friendly Valley Veterans Club.

Earlier in the day, trucks began arriving there Wednesday morning loaded with tables and chairs. Morris was there to meet them, already on his cell phone at 10 a.m. with last-minute tasks still to get done.

He coordinated the efforts of volunteers unrolling loops of electrical cords needed to power the wall’s lighting and supervised the laying of audio cords for a sound system programmed with memory-prompting nostalgic music and for the microphones awaiting tributes, anecdotes and testimonials.

Morris himself and a buddy moved into an RV on the parking lot where they will “camp out” for the next four days to ensure nothing goes wrong at the wall site, he said.

The visiting wall, although 20 percent smaller than the original, contains all of the Washington wall’s names. It officially opens to the public at 6 p.m. Thursday during a solemn opening ceremony.

For Morris, a grandfather and Korean War veteran, his year-long effort has been a labor of love.

“For me personally, what this journey has been has been meeting the neatest, most wonderful people,” he said during an interview Monday.

“The people I have met on this journey are just amazing, absolutely amazing,” he said. “Companies are companies and you ask them to do something, especially in this community, they’ll do it. But it’s the people who do the work who are absolutely magnificent.

“I am so blessed to meet these people,” he said.

The official unveiling of the traveling wall takes place today at 6 p.m.

“It’s going to be very emotional,” Morris said. “And one of the most emotional moments is going to be when (Vietnam veteran) Bill Reynolds puts up the two panels with the names of his 47 buddies on that wall.”

Reynolds’ unit lost 47 soldiers on the day he earned his Purple Heart: June 19, 1967.

The Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., is about 500 feet long and engraved with the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women who died during the Vietnam conflict, according to the National Parks Service, which manages the memorial tribute.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt





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