EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Bringing a war memorial to local veterans, a tribute always on display in Washington D.C. was replicated and is coming to the Peoria area.
In just two weeks, Levee Park in East Peoria will host a traveling tribute to veterans who served in the Vietnam War. This presents local veterans a chance to see the wall in person.
For two years, the city of East Peoria has been organizing plans to host a traveling replica of the Vietnam Wall in Washington, and in two weeks, despite COVID-19, the wall will still be assembled for display.
Dan Decker, an East Peoria firefighter, said they had to adjust plans due to the pandemic.
“Once we realized we were able to move forward with it, we decided to do so cautiously, we scaled down some of the other things we had planned,” Decker said.
Decker said city leaders from two years ago and the current leaders have been supportive of hosting the wall. He also said community members have donated to cover the funding.
“It didn’t take much time at all for us to get donations to where we were confident that we’re going to cover the costs,” Decker said.
The six-foot-tall, nearly 300-foot-wide structure is a 3/5s replica of the actual wall in Washington. Vice President of the Greater Peoria Honor Flight Phyllis Piraino said it’s a piece that moves veterans.
“Its a replica of it, so when we take our Veterans to Washington, it’s an extremely emotional time for them, especially Vietnam veterans,” Piraino said.
The wall features nearly 60,000 names of men and women who served, died, or are missing in action from the Vietnam War and not everyone is able to make it to the nation’s capital.
“Some people don’t have the money and don’t have the ability to get to Washington D.C., but they can come to East Peoria,” Decker said.
Piraino said it’s a long list waiting to fly on an honor flight and with the pandemic, flights are still being postponed.
“There are a lot of veterans that cannot fly or will not fly, so I think by bringing it to the community, I think veterans will come here,” Piraino said.
With the event being outdoors, organizers said there’s enough space for social distance. It will be open 24/7 during those four days.
The wall will be displayed starting Sept. 23 through the 27 and volunteers are still needed to help with the opening and closing ceremonies. Those that want to volunteer can email Dan Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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