By Michael Tomberlin, Alabama News Center
Few things are as moving as visiting the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., but a memorial that literally moves is able to bring a similar experience to veterans where they live.
The American Veterans Traveling Tribute will bring what officials say is the largest traveling Vietnam Wall memorial ever to visit Alabama with a five-day event
The memorial is around 80 percent the size of the actual Vietnam Wall in D.C. and honors members of the armed forces as well as law enforcement and firefighters through different tributes.
The celebration will begin with a welcome ceremony at Birmingham’s Uptown Entertainment District July 6 at 6 p.m. followed by a “parade of the wall” which will begin traveling north on U.S. 31 to Fultondale.
Once it arrives at the Fultondale Promenade at 3321 Lowery Parkway, the memorial will be erected and prepared in time to begin accepting visitors on July 7 at noon. After that, the public can visit any time through July 10 but guides will only be on hand from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day to help find names on the wall or answer any questions.
Activities during the four days in Fultondale will include helicopter rides, daily entertainment, a “Kid’s Zone” play area and fireworks starting Saturday evening.
A Vietnam flag dedication ceremony will be also be held Saturday, July 9 at 10 a.m. and a “Ride of Honor” ceremony is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m. as motorcycle-riding veterans will show respect for the fallen with a single-file ride past the wall.
“This awe-inspiring spectacle is a great experience for the riders, veterans and community” and invites the entire state to come and honor our fallen soldiers, said Fultondale Mayor Jim Lowery.
While there are a number of events scheduled to take place around the memorial’s visit, Catrena Carter, who helped organize the Fultondale stop, said the greatest thing is what it provides the Vietnam veterans.
“Some people will never get to go to Washington, D.C., and see the actual memorial, so this is the next best thing,” she said. “That’s the most beautiful thing about this traveling wall.”