OCEANSIDE — The traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was displayed at El Corazon Senior Center from April 15 to April 18. The black wall holds the 58,253 names of U.S. soldiers who gave their lives serving in the Vietnam War.
The wall arrived in Oceanside packed in a 60-foot-long fifth wheel trailer and escorted by 300 motorcyclists from the Bikers for Christ ministry that sponsored the exhibit.
Fred Zariczny, better known as Pastor Z, a veteran and pastor who founded Bikers for Christ, said the church sponsored the exhibit to bring veterans together and help them heal from the experience of war.
“It’s good to remember,” Jim Ferguson of Oceanside said. Ferguson served as a Navy journalist in the Vietnam War. He and his wife Aileen Ferguson visited the memorial to remember friends who had served.
Visitors reflected, rubbed transfers of loved ones’ names, and left flowers and small memorials.
“The legacy of the Vietnam War is never again will a warrior be blamed for the war,” Steve Doty, the exhibit owner, said.
The 380-foot traveling wall is a replica scaled to 80 percent of the size of the monument in Washington, D.C. To make it portable it is made of aluminum panels. The exhibit has been traveling across the United States for 12 years. Steve Doty and his wife Shirley Doty bought the exhibit in 2008 and continue to display it across the United States upon request. This year the wall will be displayed in 35 cities.
In addition to the Vietnam Wall Memorial there are accompanying displays to remember soldiers who served in battles that followed the Vietnam War. Doty said he put together the additional exhibits after veterans asked him why the wars they recently served in were not represented.
Included in the displays is a wall of dog tags that lists the names of soldiers who died in battles that span from the Bay of Pigs Invasion up to the present invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Doty said he travels with the exhibit because as a veteran he feels that he needs to give back to fellow soldiers. “It’s to honor, respect and remember those who have served,” Doty said.