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The Wall That Heals makes a stop in Amarillo

A visitor looking at the names of the The Wall That Heals, located at John Stiff Memorial Park until Dec. 10. (ABC 7 Amarillo- Abby Aldrich)

The Wall That Heals arrived in Amarillo at John Stiff Memorial Park on Wednesday, where veterans and their family and friends will have the chance to remember the ones they've lost from the Vietnam War.

The wall is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., spanning 250 feet long and features more than 58,000 service men and women that lost their lives in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and those service members who were unaccounted for during the war.

The travelling wall has been around since 1996 and travels throughout the country. By the end of the year, it will have reached 38 destinations. Amarillo is the last stop for 2017.

Site Manager for Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Patrick O'Neill said the memorial is a proper welcome home for many veterans.

“The Vietnam veterans didn’t get the welcome home when they came back from Vietnam and this is the chance to let them know that people do care," O'Neill said. "This is their welcome home. It’s been 50 years for some people and for them to be able to shake somebody’s hand and say 'welcome home and thank you', it's a huge thing for that person.”

Cullen Lutz, Community Engagement Coordinator with Panhandle PBS, tells ABC 7 News that the wall provides a healing opportunity for all veterans, some who have never had the opportunity to visit the memorial in Washington D.C.

“Whether they are able to visit Washington D.C. or not, we want this half-scale replica to be a special experience for them and for all of us to learn more about their service and what it means to live in a free United States of America," Lutz said.

For some, the wall brings back memories.

“The soldiers that were involved in that time, it allows some of them to have closure," veteran Lewis Field said. "It's also a good opportunity for gathering and meeting with those that have been through similar experiences to each other.”

For others, it provides closure.

"[Visitors will] walk up to the wall and find that one person, that name that they were looking for [and] a lot of times when they find that name, they just tear up and break down," O'Neill said. "I’ll ask them, 'Well, who was that to you?' and the stories where you hear 'This was my replacement. They let me go three days earlier and this was the guy that replaced me', it’s huge for them. It brings back all those memories and all that emotion and for them, that is a release.”

The wall is open 24 hours a day until Dec. 10 and will be removed from Amarillo at 2 p.m. on Sunday.


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