"Moving Wall" Passes Through Azusa

by Andrew Wheeler '06

From 1965 to 1973, the United States committed more than 429,000 troops to South Vietnam in what came to be known as the Vietnam War. More than 50,000 soldiers were either never found or declared dead. In 1982, the main section of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. was completed in the National Mall to commemorate those lost or never found. For many who have been able to experience this memorial, it is an emotional time, but not all are able to travel all the way to Washington D.C. for such an experience. It is for those people that “The Moving Wall” exists.

The Moving Wall is a half-scale traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. “The Moving Wall” was completed in 1984 and made its first appearance on October 15 in Tyler, Texas. Thanks to various efforts by a memorial committee in the town of Azusa, “The Moving Wall” stopped in the city of Azusa from October 29 until closing ceremonies on November 3.

“We were scheduled to receive the wall in November of 2001, but after 9-11 we we’re put on the back burner for approximately 5 years,” said Vietnam Vet and committee member Rev. Gilbert Becerril. “If it weren’t for Councilman Joe Rocha who called and emailed them and chased them down, it wouldn’t be here today.”

Becerril served two tours in Vietnam as a paratrooper. “I have a lot of friends whose names are on the wall, and this is how I pay my respects to them, by bringing people to it and bringing about awareness,” Becerril said.

Jesse Martinez, commander of the Azusa VFW served in Vietnam in 1966. Martinez felt that it was an emotional experience because of the connection he shares with those on the wall. “I remember them as they were then. “On the wall they are just letters, but I know what they look like, what they did, and what they stood for,” Martinez said.

Azusa Pacific University was able to provide computers to help those looking for a particular name on the wall, wind ensembles to perform at the wall, and a trumpet player to play taps at sun down every night. “It’s been neat to see the faculty, staff, and students come together to help out with The Moving Wall this week,” said Ginny Dadaian director of community relations and member of the memorial committee.

Related Story: 5th Annual Veterans Day celebration, by Rick Givens, associate director of the Office of Alumni Relations