[KHTS] – The Santa Clarita Valley has been anticipating the arrival of the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall for months, and now it is scheduled to arrive in little more than a week.
Opening night ceremonies at Westfield Valencia Town Center on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m. will feature several key speakers, including Assemblyman Scott Wilk and Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar.
Kellar said he is looking forward to what will be “a tremendous activity for our community… I’m hoping that we have a great showing from the community.”
“I was in the service during the Vietnam period,” he said, “and I certainly recall the rather difficult times for all of America.”
Looking back at the response given to Vietnam veterans when they came home from combat, Kellar is glad that Santa Clarita can now give them the thanks they never received.
“I think we today realize they were not treated as well as they should have been,” Kellar said. “I think having this wall come to Santa Clarita gives us an opportunity to say thank you to the veterans of Vietnam.”
He also sees the arrival of the wall as a way to teach young people the significance of the Vietnam War and other wars in American history.
To help local elementary students get involved, the Friendly Valley Veterans Club sponsored an essay contest. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders answered the question “Why was the Vietnam War important to America?”
First, second and third place winners will be announced during the opening ceremonies.
Mayor Bob Kellar
“I think that young people need to always learn and understand what has made America great,” Kellar said. “And the reality of it is, as we look back over the history of our great country–as sad as it is, as unfortunate as it is–that we have had to defend America many times… But having an understanding and an appreciation for what has made this country great is a key element to being an American. It’s very important that young people take the time to understand Vietnam.”
There are still a number of volunteer opportunities available for anyone who would like to participate in reading the more than 58,000 names on the wall.
Volunteers sign up for 30-minute increments, through Total Financial Solutions of Newhall. Many slots have not been filled. Click here to pick a shift.
Additional volunteers are needed for grounds maintenance and to help visitors etch the names of loved ones. Veterans can also sign up to console fellow veterans who visit the wall.
For more information about the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall and a full schedule of events, [click here].