We have visited the original full-scale wall in Washington, D.C. twice
and Jim has also seen the Moving Wall two times previously in other
A half-size replica was built and has been traveling across the country
for more than twenty years, giving many people who are unable to travel
to Washington, D.C. the opportunity to honor the people who sacrificed
their lives in this lengthy conflict.
So many cities wanted to have the Moving Wall on display that a second
replica of the panels was produced several years ago. It also tours the
Visitors are reflected in the mirror-like panels of
the Moving Wall.
Many of the visitors who view the exhibits are Vietnam veterans themselves, like Jim. Others
know servicemen and women who died in the war. Still others just want to pay tribute
to some of the people who have sacrificed their lives serving our
One reason Jim wanted to attend the exhibit on this particular day was a
memorial service that was held at 1 PM to honor the 86 Alaskan military service
members who died in conflicts in Viet Nam, Iran, Afghanistan, and
Grenada. He timed his arrival so he could walk around the exhibit and
then listen to the memorial service.
JOURNEY ON TWO WHEELS
I preferred to use this sunny day for a hike in the Chugach Mountains
about ten miles away, which meant taking the truck.
Jim offered to ride his bike downtown from the camper to see the Wall
and attend the ceremony. There are bike trails most of the way,
including several miles through Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), where we
It was a great day for a bike ride. Jim ended up with a total of about 28
miles. He had fun riding, got a good workout, and saw much more than if
he'd been driving the truck.
On the way to the Moving Wall exhibit he stopped to take some panoramic
photos above Ship Creek. I showed these three pictures in a
previous entry about this historic area of downtown but I'll
include them here again since he took them on this ride:
View toward the Port of Anchorage
View toward Alaska Railroad corporate offices (red
the brown roof in the foreground is the Ulu
View toward downtown
After taking those pictures Jim rode up the hill to mosey through the
farmers' market, the long horizontal line of (mostly) white canopies in
the center of the photo above.
The market is held during the summer on Saturdays and Sundays. It is
located in a large parking lot across from the main post office.
It’s too early for produce but Jim reported there were lots of other food items
and crafts for sale.
It was so crowded he had to walk his bike around the perimeter
of the booths and didn't get to see them all. He was OK with that;
he wasn’t interested in buying anything he could see.
I'd like to go to the farmers' market when we come back to Anchorage in
several weeks. Hopefully there will be some of Alaska's superlative
produce for sale then. (Veggies can get quite large when they have 20+
hours of sunlight a day!)
Food fare includes halibut and salmon, two fish for
which Alaska is well known.
This is a very busy
weekend in Anchorage. In addition to the farmers' market, which draws a
large crowd every week, many people went downtown to see the Moving Wall
and there is a large cruise ship docked at the port. That means hundreds
of extra visitors downtown.
There are several
other smaller events happening, too.
After he left the farmers' market Jim ran into a raptor (birds of prey) demonstration
in another one of the parks downtown. He stopped to watch for a little
while. It may have been the regular
Saturday presentation by the Alaska Public Lands folks, part of the
series we enjoyed the first Tuesday we were here re: sled dogs. He
didn't get any photos of the birds.
some lunch at a sandwich shop, then rode to the location of the Moving
Wall (the Delaney Park Strip, which is about ten blocks long and one
block wide). He found the names of two soldiers he knew in Vietnam, as
well as at least three guys he knew who attended his high school in
When you know people whose names are on that wall, it has extra
significance. It's doubly significant if you were in the conflict and
risked your own life.
Each panel in the Wall is numbered. Since the servicemen and women are
listed in the order in which they died, not alphabetically, there is an
alphabetical list to locate people's names. It denotes which panel they
are on. Although each panel includes dozens of names we've found that
the names we're searching for kind of jump out at us once we're looking
at the correct panel.
As Jim was walking around the Wall exhibit an officer in a
handsome military uniform thanked him for coming. Jim recognized him
when he spoke during the ceremony – he’s the Brigadier General who runs
the Alaska National Guard.
Jim wished he had known that when the man was talking to him. In
addition to serving in the Army, Jim was also in the National Guard. He
retired from the Guard which is how he's able to camp at military
installations and enjoy the other perks that military
retirees have justly earned.
Several other people also spoke during the hour-long ceremony. The names
of all the Alaska service men and women who died in Viet Nam (58), Iran,
Afghanistan, and Grenada (another 28 in those three conflicts) were
below: "To those Alaska veterans whose eyes have seen what the
protected will never know."
two links here for further information about the Moving Wall.
The first is
to the official
website, which has a schedule for
upcoming appearances of the two walls. They travel around the country
from April to November. The second link is to an online news
article dated June 26 about the Wall
and the memorial service that was writen by local TV station KTVA.
If you're in
Washington, D.C., we highly recommend visiting the original
Vietnam Veterans Memorial that is run by the National Park
Service. It's very impressive and can be an emotional experience even if
you don't know any of the dead or missing soldiers or never served in
Jim was pretty tired when he got home at 4 PM but he had enough energy
to wash the dog, the camper, and four loads of laundry!
Next entry: a summary of other activities and
our two-week visit in Anchorage
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil