DEARBORN - The U.S. national anthem, performed by the Henry Ford Community College Choir, set the stage for the opening ceremony of The Wall That Heals exhibit at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The Wall That Heals is a 250-foot, half-scale traveling replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
After the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, war veterans and their family members, dignitaries and employees heard welcoming remarks from John B. O’Reilly, Jr., mayor, City of Dearborn and Mike Bannister, chairman and CEO, Ford Credit and Ford executive vice president.
“We are so grateful in Dearborn and so honored to be the host for the of second time for one of the most important memorials and also to be a home of people who are so engaged that we can say that we continue to honor and embrace everyone who has ever served our country – and that in Dearborn they have a home and they have a community,” Mayor O’Reilly said.
“We thank you for sponsoring The Wall’s visit to Dearborn. Its presence will be welcomed by our employees, the citizens of Dearborn and all of the surrounding communities,” said Bannister.
The keynote address was presented by decorated veteran Jan Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. In 1979, Scruggs envisioned building a Vietnam Veterans Memorial to play tribute to all who served during one of the longest wars in American history. Today, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is among the most visited memorials in the nation’s capital.
“The Wall That Heals transcends the Vietnam War to help our great nation renew its relationship with veterans of all wars,” said Scruggs.
The Wall That Heals helps veterans who have been unable to cope with the prospect of facing The Wall in Washington, D.C., to find the strength and courage to do so within their own communities.
Names engraved on The Wall That Heals are a replica of the names on The Wall in Washington, D.C. The names are listed alphabetically by day of casualty. Allen Park resident Bob Wojciak located his brother-in-law’s name on The Wall That Heals.
“This is an awesome event to recognize veterans of war,” Wojciak said. “I am grateful to Ford Motor Company for putting on this event.”
Accompanying The Wall That Heals is a museum that tells the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the contentious era in American history. A Traveling Museum and Information Center, providing a comprehensive educational component to enrich and complete visitors' experiences, are a part of the exhibit.
Since its dedication in 1999, The Wall That Heals has spread the Memorial's healing legacy to millions and has visited more than 300 cities and towns nationwide. The Wall That Heals will be on display at Ford World Headquarters 24 hours a day through Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. There is no charge for admission.