Community members can now visit The Wall That Heals, which will officially open with a special ceremony this evening.

Approximately 50 volunteers helped assemble the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport in Howell Wednesday, working from 8:30am to 4pm carrying pieces of the Wall; some of which weigh up to 200 lbs.

Dale Brewer, a member of The Wall That Heals committee, encourages community members to visit the exhibit, which also includes tours of the mobile education center, the Michigan Memorial Wall, a traveling artifact museum and the chance to try on combat gear complete with an imitation gun and ammunition for a photo opportunity and history lesson.

Brewer tells WHMI an opening ceremony will be held at the site at 6:30pm this evening and will feature Guest Speaker Phillip Pham. Pham and his family lived in Vietnam until they escaped in 1975 just ahead of the North Vietnamese takeover when his father stole an airplane and flew his family and 50 others out of Vietnam to Singapore, later making their way to the United States. Pham and his father will share their experience at the opening ceremony. Now U.S. citizens, both father and son are proud to be here. Brewer says they want to thank veterans and those whose names are on the Wall for all they gave to them through their service and sacrifice.

A ceremony will also be held tomorrow evening at 6:30pm to recognize first responders, which will include medics, corpsmen, nurses, clergy and K9’s. Brewer guesses anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 people will visit the site over the course of the next several days and encourages guests to arrive early for ceremonies they plan to attend.

A schedule of the weekend’s events can be found at the link below. (DK)