The Wall That Heals, the traveling replica of the black granite Vietnam Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, will return to Myrtle Beach for five days in May as a feature of the 6th annual Military Appreciation Days.
Bob Hawkins of Pawleys Island, a retired Army officer who has helped coordinate Military Appreciation Days, says planning is going well for the month-long celebration and Memorial Day weekend events, which will include a parade and exhibits May 24 in downtown Myrtle Beach.
Hawkins’ worry now is that area organizations complete applications for having displays or being in the parade.
Meanwhile, Kris Tourtellotte, director of the Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center, is raising money to help pay to bring the wall to the area. The city of Myrtle Beach is paying half the $5,600 cost and Tourtellotte is in the process of raising $2,800. A fundraiser is scheduled April 6 at the Veterans Cafe & Grill, near the back gate of the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.
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The replica wall will be set up May 14-18 in Grand Park in Market Commons. A motorcycle escort will accompany the truck carrying the wall on May 13. The replica wall, a project of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, was displayed here for three days two years ago at the former Pavilion site. In 2007, it was displayed for five days at Broadway at the Beach and Tourtellotte estimates “we probably had seven or eight thousand’’ people visit the display.
Scents for Soldiers again is bringing wounded combat veterans to Myrtle Beach for the holiday weekend. “This year we’re able to expand -- we’re inviting 70,’’ says Christina Shealy, founder of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit. She started Scents for Soldiers in 2007 to distribute items to patients in military hospitals and that continues a minimum of five times a year.
The Myrtle Beach Moose Lodge, one of the many co-sponsors, raised $3,900 at a Valentines Day dinner. “t was absolutely wonderful,’’ Shealy says. It was a first-time fundraiser, although the Moose Lodge has provided meals for the visiting veterans.
Hawkins says the area chapter of Military Officers of America Association is again, with AMI restoration, sponsoring a parade float for the wounded warriors. Last Memorial Day weekend, 45 veterans came on the trip, from Fort Bragg and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina; Fort Belvoir, Va.; and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
Television personality Montel Williams will be the grand marshal of the parade. A remembrance ceremony on May 26 will be hosted by the Patriotic Alliance.
The Wall That Heals has been in more than 350 communities since the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund unveiled the half-scale replica in 1996. The name alludes to one of the purposes of the Vietnam Memorial, dedicated in 1982, to honor the 58,000 men and women killed in Vietnam or still missing, as well as to heal the nation’s emotional wounds.