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Membership Notes, November/December 2018

Wall Replica No. 5: Southwest Florida


With the November 5 dedication of the Southwest Florida Memorial Wall we can add one more to the short list of replicas of the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial that have been built around the nation. Last month we profiled the first four.

•   The Utah Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Layton, which came into being earlier this year through the work of the Utah State Council and Ogden Chapter 1079

•   The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica Wall in Tupelo, Mississippi, dedicated last year, largely through the efforts of Tupelo Chapter 842 and a local Marine Corps League detachment

•   The 241-foot replica Wall at the Memorial Building in Dinuba in Central California, dedicated in 2015, the brainchild of VVA member Joe Rivera

•   The 250-foot replica in Wildwood, New Jersey, the work of Michael P. Callahan Memorial Chapter 955 in Wildwood, which was dedicated in 2010.

VVA’s Gulf Coast Chapter 1037 has been an active supporter of the black granite Southwest Florida Memorial, which is 273 feet long, nearly seven feet high at the apex, and is just about half of the size of The Wall in Washington. Ground was broken for the memorial on Veterans Day 2015. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a U.S. Navy veteran, was on hand for the occasion.

Construction began in early January 2016 for the memorial, which is located in Laishley Park in downtown Punta Gorda, which is north of Fort Myers, near the Gasparilla Sound waterfront.

The memorial was funded through contributions from individuals, businesses, and local civic and veterans groups, including Chapter 1037. Charlotte County contributed $50,000 and the state of Florida kicked in $150,000. The largest budget item, $600,000, covered buying the granite (from Bangladore, India), cutting and polishing it, and engraving the names.

The memorial, Gov. Scott said in 2015, “will help honor a group of veterans who haven’t always been treated honorably. Nobody thanked them for their service in Vietnam, so this is going to be a great testament to the fact that this country cares about all military members.”

Many local Vietnam War veterans have visited the Wall, which has been open to the public since early September, and come away moved and impressed. As Francis Michael Moriarty, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served as a nurse anesthetist at the 18th Surgical Hospital in Quang Tri, put it: “We Vietnam veterans just love and appreciate having this healing Wall in our community.”





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