• Wendy Moxley Roe

The Moving Wall

The Moving Wall Vietnam Veteran Traveling Memorial, September 26, 2019 Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside, IL

The idea for the Moving Wall, pictured above, began in the mind of John Devitt. In 1982, Devitt, an Army Veteran and former Vietnam helicopter door gunner, made the trip to Washington D.C to witness the dedication of the Wall and to participate in a Salute to Vietnam Veterans. At the time he was unemployed and it took the help of friends and family to make the trip. He fully expected to dislike the memorial but instead was so moved by it that he left D.C. with a mission to share what he experienced with people all over the country who could not make it to the capital.

Thus the Moving wall began as a spark of something that Devitt knew in his heart to be much, much bigger. After doing some research he learned it would cost $40,000.00 to construct and execute his idea of a moving half sized replica of the wall in D.C. He was able to gather those around him and collect $2500. With only an idea and a promise that the wall would eventually pay for itself Devitt combed the community for those willing to donate time, labor or anything useless. It made its inaugural appearance in Tyler, TX in 1984 and has been touring the country ever since.

The original Moving Wall at the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater in Pittsburg, Kansas Photo from

There are now two half size replicas that travel the country, spring through fall, and have made more than 1000 visits in the 35 years they have been on the road. The original was retired in 2004 and is on display at the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater in Pittsburg, Kansas . The

The Walls travel safe and comfortable in custom crates that ride on its own rig consisting of a heavy duty trailer and beautiful shiny Black Denali complete with The Moving wall logo. The wall is usually escorted by local veteran or police groups to its location.

It takes many months and hundreds of volunteers to plan and execute a visit from the Moving wall. The cemetery staff and locals play a huge part in setting up and running what is usually a four to five day event.

The wall is roped and on either side are tables set up so that you make etchings of a loved ones name on the wall. There are even instructions on how to locate the name you are looking for.

The Missing Man Table is set up at the center of the wall. The printed sign explains the meaning of each item on the table.

The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his suppressors.

The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call to arms

The single rose in the vase signifies the blood that has been shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States. The rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, awaiting their return.

The Red ribbon on the vase represents the people who demand, with unyielding determination, a proper account of our loved ones who are not among us.

The slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate.

The salt reminds us of the countless tears that have been shed.

The glass is inverted, as they are not here to toast with us.

The candle is representative of the light of hope that lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, to the arms of a grateful nation.

The American Flag reminds us of the ultimate sacrifice so many have made

We had a chance to view the wall being set up at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Il On September 26, 2019. The opening Ceremonies began at 5 pm that evening and Closing Ceremonies Monday September 30, 2019.:

There are currently two Moving Wall replicas that continue to travel through November. You can find its current schedule here:

Across from the Wall was a field of flags laid out in memory of the Vietnam soldiers Missing In Action and still not accounted for.

Wendy Moxley Roe

October 2019

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