During the Vietnam War, 58,281 men and women made the ultimate sacrifice. Today, communities across the nation have the opportunity to honor their bravery by visiting The Wall That Heals.

This year, nearly 100 communities vied for the privilege of hosting The Wall That Heals, and Merced College is proud to be among the 33 selected. Starting March 28, with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m., until March 31, the college will host the three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, accompanied by a mobile education center.

“There is a strong love and admiration for our veterans in the Merced area, many of whom are Vietnam-era veterans,” said Glenn Galman, a member of the Merced Sunrise Rotary.

Sponsored by Mike and Lori Gallo, as well as Linda and Kenny Jelacich, the event is open to the entire Merced community with no admission fee. The Wall That Heals is a community service project of the Merced Sunrise Rotary Club.

The installation will be located at the corner of M Street and Yosemite Avenue.

From co-hosting events like The Wall That Heals and The Field of Honor with the Merced Sunrise Rotary to providing student services on campus like the 1st Lt. Peter J. Gallo Veterans Resource Center, Merced College continues to support military, veterans, and their families.

“The Veterans Resource Center helps veterans from the United States military and their families transition from military life back to the civilian sector and ultimately back to education,” said Dustin Thompson, Director of Human Resources and former Coordinator of the Veterans Resource Center. “The center is a place where veterans can meet and network with others from similar background.”

Semi driving on freeway

Merced College’s commitment to supporting the campus community of veterans extends to the surrounding community through hosting events like The Wall That Heals.

Crafted from synthetic granite, the replica was created to closely mirror the well-known chevron-shaped layout of the original memorial in Washington, D.C. Visitors will have the chance to create rubbings of the names of service members etched onto The Wall, a gesture allowing loved ones to carry a tangible piece of remembrance with them.

“The Wall That Heals was curated by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the nonprofit that runs the monument in Washington D.C.” Galman said. “The Wall That Heals represents a place for veterans and their families to grieve for their friends and loved ones.”

Visitors are encouraged to make a stop at the mobile Education Center, where they can learn more about the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall, and American history at that time. Digital photo displays, educational exhibits, a replica of the In-Memory plaque, and much more will be on display in the mobile Education Center.

Prior to the event, The Wall That Heals will be escorted from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Atwater to Merced College by local motorcyclists and motorcycle groups, paying tribute to the significance of The Wall’s journey.

“Since the post-World War II era, there has been a precedence of motorcycles escorting fallen service members,” said Adam Conour, Ride Captain.

How can you participate in the ride?

“Simply show up on your motorcycle, and we’ll ride!” Conour said.

To participate, motorcyclists should meet at Stage Stop, 601 Atwater Blvd., Atwater), at 11 a.m. March 26.

Those who want to get involved can visit The Wall That Heals website to find links and information on how to volunteer or donate.

Veterans observing The Wall That Heals