Veterans wanted for Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall procession

Veterans wanted for Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall procession

GLOCESTER – Three months remain before the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall comes to Ponaganset High School on Nov. 1, and plans to hold a ceremonial parade procession are in the works.

Wall coordinator and Ponaganset High history teacher Christopher Stanley is looking for several veteran organizations, historic militias, civic organizations and dignitaries from Foster, Glocester and neighboring counties to join in the procession.

Stanley said between fundraising and spreading the word to nearby veterans, bringing the wall to Ponaganset has become something like a second job for him. But, bringing the wall to the community is worth the work.

“I want it to arrive with a sense of solemn respect,” he said.

With a tendency to go for a hands-on approach to teaching, Stanley said it’s gotten harder over the years to keep the students’ attention.

When a student asked Stanley to make a class trip to see the Vietnam Wall, he knew funding would make the trip impossible. Instead, Stanley decided to bring the wall to the school.

Made for people who do not have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall is a half-sized replica of the one in the nation’s capital.

Stanley said he saw the wall in his hometown of Warren years ago, and knew he needed to bring it to Ponaganset for the community to enjoy.

“We have a good core group of kids, around 20 kids hands-on, who have a thirst for knowledge about what the Vietnam War was all about,” he said. “They were hungry to learn about it.”

An image Stanley will never forget, and one he felt needed to be shared with students, was that of a lone Vietnam veteran standing at the Moving Wall in Warren, paying his respects early in the morning.

“It was powerful. When kids see that, it speaks to them. They recognize the heartache, blood, tragedy and can see the wear war takes,” Stanley said.

This effort is about honoring and respecting more than 58,000 Vietnam veterans whose names are inscribed on the wall, he said.

Coinciding with the exhibit, students also created a cube-shaped timeline of the war told through pictures and texts to complement “Through the Eyes,” a traveling Vietnam War exhibit featuring photos taken by a Vietnam combat photographer.

It costs roughly $75,000 to bring the wall to the school, Stanley said, and he’s raised approximately $45,000 through fundraising events. He plans one last fundraiser, a golfing tournament, on Sept. 22.

The wall will be open to the public 24 hours each day from Nov. 1 to Nov. 5. That week will feature several ceremonial and educational events, Stanley said.

To donate, play in the tournament, or be in the Moving Wall’s ceremonial procession, contact Stanley before Sept 7 at cstanley@fgschools.com or 401-338-6015.