A touching history lesson in Townsend – Lowell Sun
As we near the celebration of this nation’s 245th birthday on July 4th, it is instructive to understand the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform then and now.
Unfortunately, the war to wrest control of these 13 colonies from the British Empire was not the last to take a devastating human toll.
But of all the conflicts, none was so poorly understood or disparaged as the Vietnam War, which eventually drew more than 2.7 million US military personnel into this swamp, mainly from the mid-1960s until we withdrew in 1973.
It was also the first time returning US veterans of an overseas military conflict had been showered with abuse rather than praise.
The shame of participating in a war that was seen as unjustified left invisible scars that some Vietnam veterans still bear today.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, completed in 1982, was the first major step towards the long-overdue reconciliation and recognition of the fighters and the more than 58,000 people who died there.
A mobile memorial, launched 14 years later, is now traveling the country, offering countless other Americans the opportunity to ponder the ultimate sacrifices of our soldiers and soldiers.
The Wall That Heals, this traveling replica of the Vietnam War Memorial, will be stationed at North Middlesex Regional High School until the fourth weekend in July.
His presence provides a rare opportunity for residents of Townsend and the surrounding communities to see this moving memorial and ponder the names of all Americans who died in this controversial Southeast Asia conflict.
After arriving on Thursday afternoon, the wall will be open to the public until 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Unveiled on Veterans Day in 1996, this movable wall offers Vietnam veterans and every citizen the opportunity to experience the range of emotions within their own communities that countless visitors to the actual Vietnam Memorial have experienced firsthand.
“It’s a smaller, exact replica of what’s in Washington, and when you sit back in Washington and look at the entire wall, how it is laid out, how the grounds are laid out, it is represented the same way,” Russell said Jobe, past state commander of the Department of Massachusetts Veterans of Foreign Wars, told the newspaper.
Like the original, the chevron-shaped mobile wall, which is 375 feet long and 7.5 feet high at its highest point, allows visitors to see the wall rise above them as they move to its top.
Its synthetic granite composition provides a surface suitable for rubbing down names etched into stone.
Jobe said the effort to bring the wall to Townsend took two years. It was originally supposed to come last summer but the coronavirus pandemic canceled it. Jobe worked closely with Joe Firmani, director of the nonprofit Operation Service in Fitchburg, to help plan.
As the show ended up in a smaller community like Townsend, Jobe said it really came down to the community.
“We talked with passion about why we wanted it and how we would do it and we didn’t want to drop the ball,” said Jobe.
The wall will arrive via Fort Devens and leave the Clear Path for Veterans at 2 p.m., accompanied by approximately 300 motorcycles, State Police motorcycles, a helicopter and 50 jeeps from the Massachusetts Wicked Jeeps Club. It will travel to Townsend on lines 13 and 119 and arrive at the high school by 3:00 p.m.
It is not the first time that this moving exhibition has appeared in our area. Fitchburg, Leominster, and Lowell – among others – have all been hosts in the past.
But given the patriotic spirit of the holiday and victory over a viral pandemic, it seems like a fair way to spend some time with this misunderstood piece of US history.