Last month The Wall That Heals, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington, was here in Orlando at Lake Eola Park. I wanted to see what this replica wall was like and how it compared to the original.
When I first visited the Wall in Washington I was struck by the size and power of the piece. It’s so simple and beautiful. Maya Lin was only 21 and a Yale architecture student when she won the national design competition for the Vietnam Memorial in 1981. There was much controversy over the design. Lin believed her design would never have been selected if the competition listed the artists’ name instead of an identifying number for each entry. Since that time the Wall has become a national shrine.
The replica in Orlando was very moving. It was in the northeast corner of the park and there were lots of large oak trees covering the area. It added a serene feeling to the monument. I was able to locate the name of an older cousin of mine, James Owens, who died in 1967. When you look at all of the names listed, it’s hard not to think of their lives and the lives of their family members. It’s what makes the Wall so emotional. I visited on Saturday and Sunday and the weather was perfect, sunny and mild. There was a display of Vietnam War souvenirs and an authentic gunboat on site as well.
This Wall will continue to tour the country throughout the year. They’re also asking for photos of the fallen soldiers listed for a Virtual Wall which is being created. Please visit the website for more info: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.