Wall that Heals erected in York

Greg Gross
  • The Wall that Heals will be on display at the York Expo Center until Sunday evening.

Section by section, the Wall that Heals began to take shape Wednesday at the York Expo Center.

The work to align the metal sections had to be precise. A quarter of an inch just wouldn't cut it, Tim Tetz, director of outreach with the Wall that Heals, told a group of volunteers who turned up to assemble the half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

More than 30 people lent a hand assembling the roughly 250-foot-long wall on a plot of grass near the Carlisle Avenue entrance to the expo center. One volunteer was tasked with keeping a keen eye on how the wall was lining up as other volunteers slid sections into place. Another man hammered stakes into the ground, giving the wall some stability.

"When you come back ... you're going to have your own little piece of history, your own place to memorialize the fallen Pennsylvanians and the fallen service members from York County," said Tetz during a ceremony welcoming the wall to the county.

The tractor-trailer carrying the Wall that Heals received a motorcycle and police escort for its final stretch of the journey from just outside Abbottstown to the expo center.

The wall: The half-scale version of the wall will be on display through Sunday, with a series of events and ceremonies planed, said state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, whose office helped coordinate bringing the wall to York.

The exhibit also features a museum that includes photos of service members whose names are on the wall as well as memorabilia and letters left at the permanent wall in Washington. The wall will be open 24 hours a day while at the expo center.

Its visit is hosted by the York County-based Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1032.
As is the tradition at the Washington version, attendees can bring mementos to the Wall that Heals. They also can make rubbings of names on the wall.

The wall has  the names of the nearly 60,000 members of the U.S. armed services who died in the conflict. Of those names, 3,147 belong to people from the Keystone State, said Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township.

Wall that Heals coming to York in May

Helping out: York City resident Chris Young, who is originally from Ohio and served during the Vietnam War, was one of the men who unloaded a section of the wall from the trailer.

"I'm a taker-outer," he joked.

Young's 21 years in the U.S. Navy stretched from the Vietnam War to the Gulf War. Like most people who were in their younger years during the 1960s and '70s, Young knew one of the men behind a name on the wall.

U.S. Marine Larry Porter was 19 years old when he was killed in then South Vietnam,  just a few months into his tour of duty in 1969, according to The Wall-USA website, which honors members of the military who died during the war.

Wade Fregm, center, of Dover, works with other volunteers to build the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, known as "The Wall that Heals," in York City, Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The wall will be on display at the York Fairgrounds May 5-8. Dawn J. Sagert  photo

He went to high school with Young in Steubenville, Ohio.

"His girlfriend sat right next to me in class," Young recalled.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ggrossyd.

If you go

The Wall that Heals will be on display through Sunday and is open to the public 24 hours a day. It is free to attend.

An opening ceremony, featuring state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, will be held 10 a.m. Thursday. A second ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, and a closing ceremony takes place at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Volunteers are needed to help staff the wall, and anyone interested is asked to contact state Rep. Seth Grove's district office at (717) 767-3947.