ARKPORT — Generations proceeding the Vietnam War tend to think of the conflict in general terms, failing to recognize the magnitude of loss felt by those who experienced it first hand, and those who lost loved ones to America’s most controversial war.
Since 1984, The Moving Wall, a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Memorial wall in Washington, D.C. has been traversing the nation in hopes of reminding new generations to never forget those who gave their lives in the Vietnam Conflict.
Inspired by the 1982 dedication John Devitt vowed to share the experience with people across the country The wall will be on public display at Arkport Cycles from today through Monday, June 6 thanks to customer suggestions and the help of many local co-sponsors.
“A lot of our customer base is military veterans, and it was some of them who brought it to our staff’s attention that it would be cool to have this done in the local area,” said Jenny Swarts, general manager of Arkport Cycles.
At least three organizations have traveling walls, some are one-third size replicas, but the moving wall coming to Arkport is the only half-size replica.
“Andover and Wellsville have had this one in the past,” Swarts said.
The wall will be given a motorcycle escort from Dansville to Arkport Cycles.
The business has always involved itself in local veterans events, hosting motorcycle rides that benefit veterans charities and services.
“We have veterans on staff, and motorcycling and military service often go hand-in-hand, and many of our customers over the years have been veterans, so it’s been dear to our hearts to help organizations like that,” Swarts said.
Many Harley Davidson customers also have an interest in things uniquely American, especially military service, staff noticed over the years.
“Americanism and the brand Harley Davidson go hand in hand, and there’s a lot of American pride with that,” Swarts said.
In general, the business has had a great show of public support for the event.
“Overall, people are very happy about us having it,” Swarts said.
A member of the Arkport School Board, Swarts reached out to local schools to schedule educational visits on Friday, and four local schools had already responded on Wednesday.
“I think they need to see first-hand what happened in their parents’ and grandparents’ lives and that it’s real. Freedom isn’t free, people who serve pay the consequences,” she said. “We want to focus on remembrance and being thankful for everything we have."
Young or old, organizers hope that those who come to see the wall leave with a new or renewed appreciation.
“What we hope to gain from it is education, and give people a way to pay their respects,” Swarts said.
Initially Swarts wanted to have each of the 58,228 names appearing on the wall read by volunteers, but it just wasn’t feasible given the time and manpower necessary.
“I read somewhere that it would take 72 hours to read every name on the wall, and for me that puts it into perspective for the normal person that doesn’t know a lot about it,” she said.
Opening ceremonies will be held tonight at 6:30, featuring an introduction by Mayor Charles Flanders, a presentation of colors by the Arkport American Legion, a nightly wreath laying by each branch of the military, special guest speaker Dr. Rick Parker and a candle light vigil.
In addition to the appearance of the wall, There will be guest speakers at 10 a.m., and a musical tribute will also take place each day.
When the wall is up, it can be visited any time of day. TO learn more about the event call 607-295-7426 or visit www.arkportcycles.com.
Moving Wall schedule:
Thursday, June 2:
• A motorcycle escort for the Moving Wall's entry into town starts off at 8:30 a.m. at Logan's Inn in Dansville.
• Opening Ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. with music by Genesee Valley Choir, bagpipes and a candlelight vigil.
Friday, June 3:
• Guest speakers at 10 a.m. with music from the Blue Jay Choraliers and bagpipes.
Saturday, June 4:
• Guest speakers at 10 a.m.
• A motorcycle ride by Conesus Lake Riders leaves at noon. Proceeds benefit Bath VA's Mental Health Division.
• A musical tribute presented by Danny B. at 1 p.m.
Sunday, June 5:
• Guest speakers at 10 a.m.
• Musical tribute at 1 p.m. by Sterling Brass
Monday, June 6:
• Closing Day Ceremony at 10 a.m.
• Music tribute by Danny B. at 1 p.m.
• Wall down at 4 p.m.