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Vietnam War Memorial replica to visit SCV in September

Korean War veteran orchestrates event to share experience with local residents

Posted: June 12, 2013 5:39 p.m.
Updated: June 12, 2013 6:23 p.m.

Korean War veteran Chuck Morris worked to bring a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall to the Santa Clarita Valley so residents can share the experience of visiting the memorial. Signal photo by Dan Watson

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Chuck Morris has thrown his heart into a project that will touch the hearts of many in the Santa Clarita Valley this fall: Bringing the Vietnam War Memorial to the Santa Clarita Valley.

On Sept. 26 through Sept. 29, the American Veteran Traveling Tribute Vietnam Memorial Wall will make Santa Clarita its temporary home, thanks to the efforts of both Morris and the Friendly Valley Veterans Club.

Morris has dedicated over a year raising the funds to bring one of the national traveling memorials to the Santa Clarita Valley so local residents can experience a visit to the memorial.

The Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., is a structure slightly less than 500 feet long and is etched with the names of over 58,000 servicemen and women who died in service during the Vietnam conflict, according to the National Parks Service.

Several privately own replicas of the Vietnam Memorial Wall are rented out across the country. The wall that will be standing in a parking lot of the Westfield Valencia Town Center is an 80 percent replica that has all of the names that appear on the original memorial etched into its marble face.

Bringing the AVTT wall to the valley from Texas costs $6,000. Morris raised the money through significant donations. The city of Santa Clarita, Westfield Valencia Town Center and Friendly Valley Veterans Club each donated $1,000 to the cause. Morris is commander of the veterans club.

“I wanted to bring this wall to Santa Clarita for the people who have relatives or know people whose names are on the wall and can’t afford to go to Washington,” Morris said.

Visiting the wall can be a moving experience, he said, noting he had been to a traveling wall in another city and wanted to share the experience with local residents.

His friends who are Vietnam veterans have told stories about taking hours and several attempts to finally approach the wall, their overwhelming memories and emotions regarding their experiences prolonging their stay.

He also wants to bring it here to help educate children who don’t know much, if anything, about the Vietnam War.

“These kids can have the opportunity to see the sacrifices made in a war they know nothing about.”

The traveling wall will arrive Wednesday night, Sept. 25, escorted by California Highway Patrol officers, various veteran motorcade groups, the Fire Department and sheriff’s deputies escorting it on a truck down Magic Mountain Parkway, he said.

On the morning of Sept. 26 the wall will be erected by volunteers and and a grand opening ceremony will be held that Thursday evening. The opening ceremony will feature an honor guard, a Condor Squadron fly-over and speakers from local and national government.

Every night that the wall is in the city, there will be an event at six o’clock. On Friday, the Fire Department will provide its own honor guard with bagpipes.

Sunday will feature music from the Vietnam era. Morris said that many soldiers during the Vietnam War listened to the music of the era to feel connected to home, and that music was very influenced by the war.

While in town, the replica will be guarded 24 hours a day to ensure the wall’s safety and that all who wish to visit it will have the opportunity, Morris said.

He said he expects several members of the community to visit the wall in the middle of the night, hoping for privacy and anonymity.

“This is not a fund-raising event,” Morris said.

“This is an event for the community.”




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