Vietnam Memorial Wall Replica Coming to Indiana

Residents in three Indiana towns will have the opportunity this year to see a scaled replica of the Vietnam Memorial through the Wall That Heals, a traveling educational and memorial experience.

The first 2018 Indiana stop, Salem on May 17-20, is sponsored by the Washington County Community Foundation. Executive director Judy Johnson offers that of over 100 communities nationally that applied to host the Wall That Heals, only 39 were selected.

The Wall That Heals will also have Indiana stops in Milan on September 6-8 and Middletown on September 27-30.

Of the various events that will be scheduled around the wall’s stop in Salem, Johnson says retired Lieutenant General Michael S. Tucker will be the guest speaker during the organization’s opening ceremony.

The Wall That Heals is a three-quarter size replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and is 375 feet long and 7.5 feet high at the tallest point. All names on the original memorial are included and visitors can do name rubbings on the replica.

The Washington County Community Foundation offers more on the organization’s web site:

Hosting The Wall That Heals provides a community with a multi-day experience of reflection that includes an educational experience for local schools and organizations on the history of the Vietnam era and The Wall.

The exhibit includes The Wall replica and a mobile Education Center that comprises digital displays of photos of service members whose names are on The Wall; letters and memorabilia left at The Wall by visitors; a map of Vietnam; and a chronological overview of the Vietnam War.

The exhibits tell the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall, and the era surrounding the conflict, and are designed to place American experiences in Vietnam in an historical and cultural context.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most visited memorials in our nation’s capital, with more than 5.6 million visitors each year. However, many Americans have not been able to visit what has become known to many as “The Wall.” The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), the organization that built The Wall in 1982, wants to provide all veterans, their family members, and the general public across America an opportunity to visit the memorial.

“Taking The Wall That Heals on the road gives thousands more veterans and their family members an opportunity to see The Wall and honor those who have served and sacrificed so much,” said Jim Knotts, president and CEO of VVMF. “It helps veterans from all of America’s conflicts to find healing and a powerful connection through their common military experiences.”

More than 200,000 people visited The Wall That Heals in 2016. Since its debut in 1996, the exhibit has been on display in nearly 500 U.S. communities, as well as internationally during an April 1999 tour of the Four Provinces of Ireland, and a visit to Canada in 2005.

VVMF coordinates local stops of The Wall That Heals and the accompanying mobile Education Center. The current schedule and more information can be found at:  www.thewallthatheals.org.

Throwback Thursday: Celebrating the Hickory Huskers in Knightstown

My lovely girlfriend surprised me with an hour-long shoot around at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown last Saturday. The gym, of course, was the home of the fictional Hickory Huskers in “Hoosiers” (1985) — loosely based on the Milan High School team that won the state title in 1954.

We actually viewed the movie together before driving over to the gym, where we would ultimately compete in a few heated games of HORSE. (And it’s not important who won or lost two out of three — so don’t ask me because it’s a sore subject.)

Because “Hoosiers” is my favorite film, this experience was a long time coming. It’s not only my most beloved movie, mind you, but it also includes my favorite film quote: “My team is on the floor.”

Ah yes, a valuable lesson about principle for young Rade. (Trying to circumvent the four-pass mandate will get you nowhere, my man.)

We were shown around by the gentleman on site, and he told us how producers came to choose the gym largely thanks to the work of Knightstown resident Peg Mayhill, who persistently lobbied the Indiana Film Commission during the selection process.

He also took us down into the locker rooms. I found this intriguing because I’d always assumed they filmed the locker room scenes in another location — one of those trademark Hollywood “tricks.” But no, they were down there basking in all their quaint glory.

The gym’s web site also has more on how the gym was initially built:

In 1920, the Knightstown Community School had no gymnasium. Basketball games were held in Bell’s Hall above Jolly’s Drugstore and in the basement gym of the Presbyterian Church. It was clear: the school needed a gymnasium of its own.

In February of 1921, a half dozen Knightstown businessmen met to discuss the situation. They were aware of the fact that Knightstown was lagging behind other towns in the development of a children’s athletic education and believed that area young people were entitled to physical education.

After much debate, a plan was developed and approved. A new gym would be built. Within weeks, their campaign raised more than $14,400 with donations from more than 250 private citizens and several local businesses. Construction started in the summer of 1921 and the gym was ready for use by December 1921. The first high school basketball game in the gym is believed to have been on November 25, 1921. Final score Knightstown 10, Sulphur Springs 11. The first victory for the Knightstown Falcons came on December 2, 1921 against The Indiana School for the Deaf, winning 20-18 in overtime.

Oh, and as far as you know, I made this free throw (pictured).

PS – For more about the gym, see this interesting post on Hidden Gyms. Additionally, the gym offers group tours and can host events, like family reunions, for a very reasonable price. Just call its office at (800) 668-1895.