Traveling Vietnam Memorial coming to Susanville
Not only did the effort to bring the American Veterans Traveling Tribute wall win support from the Lassen County Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday, Nov. 14 meeting, each of the five board members also donated $500 from his discretionary fund to the effort. County Poet Laureate Violet Stout also pitched in $100.
“It is one of those rare life experiences,” said District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman. “If you haven’t had the chance to go to Washington, D.C. and visit the real Vietnam Memorial there, this is like the next best thing.”
Mike Cornelison, a Navy veteran and the Family Life Pastor of Susanville Church of the Nazarene, who is spearheading the drive, told the board a four-day American Veterans Traveling Tribute he organized in Grass Valley drew more than 60,000 people.
“There are three traveling walls,” Cornelison said, adding the American Veterans wall has engraved panels, allowing people to take a scratching of the names of those who died in Vietnam.
“This is the premiere one. It’s four-fifths the size of the one that’s in Washington,” he said. “It’s over 380 feet long. Visually it looks almost the same. Visually it’s hard to distinguish the difference. So it’s huge.”
A computer locater allows visitors to find the panel and line for one of the more than 50,000 names engraved on the black wall. Cornelison said he expects at least 30,000 to visit the wall while it’s in Susanville.
The traveling tribute wall will not stop anywhere else in Northern California. It will be in Washington State before it comes to Susanville and then travel east to Illinois or Indiana, he said. Chapman said the event will draw people from as far away as Reno, Chico and Redding.
There is an $8,000 fee to bring the wall to Susanville.
“And that’s just the fee of the wall itself,” Cornelison said. “You still have to pay for travel expenses, hotel and food for the four people who will be coming with it.”
His church paid $2,000 to ensure the wall is booked to come to Lassen County from Friday to Monday on the first weekend in July, Cornelison said.
Other costs bring the total budget for the effort to an estimated $35,000. Cornelison and the board members agreed the community will have no trouble raising that amount.
“There’s no charges to go in and view anything or to attend the program that they’re going to have. There’s not going to be a fee there,” said Chapman, adding the effort will involve a lot of sponsorships from businesses, individuals and organizations.
The board agreed to allow the Susanville Remembrance Committee to set up the wall at Susanville Ranch Park. The board agenda called the group the Let Us Remember committee; Let Us Remember appears on the group’s flyers for the event.
“We have a very large county and there’s a lot of folks that are not going to be able to get to Washington to ever see the wall,” said District 4 Supervisor Brian Dahle, asking if the schools will be involved in the presentation.
County Schools Superintendent Bob Owens serves as the committee’s school liaison and plans to advertise the event before the end of school.
“On Monday, we have special children’s tours available at the wall,” Cornelison said. “Bob is going to advertise this year prior to vacation to get the word out to as many people as we can at the schools.”
The committee will also pass out flyers to the schools inviting students to come to the wall on Monday, July 9 for children’s tours.
“The organizers that are bringing the wall recognize the special and unique questions children have about Vietnam and about why we’re at war,” Cornelison said. “So we will answer those specifically.”
The board agreed to waive any fees associated with the use of Susanville Ranch Park. It also directed county staff to work with the Susanville Remembrance Committee to arrange the most advantageous site at the park, along with details of nighttime lighting, parking and shuttle transportation to the event.
The board will consider specific permits at a later date. However, Chairman Bob Pyle directed staff to settle the details before Jan. 1.
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