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In Mississippi, individuals look over “The Wall That Heals,” a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, opening its 2022 tour season. Photo by Jimmy Hale
While combing over the names on the wall, Jimmy Hale found the name of Marshall L. Calender, a Rockford native. Photo by Jimmy Hale
Marshall Lee Calender, a veteran of Rockford, as seen on the “Faces of the Wall” website. Photo submitted
By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
Jimmy Hale, a resident of Mississippi who previously lived in Rockford, recently had the opportunity to see “The Wall That Heals” on the Mississippi coast.
“The Wall That Heals” exhibit includes a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile Education Center. The 2022 national tour of the traveling wall began the twenty-seventh season on March 24, hosted at the Alice Moseley Folk Art and Antique Museum in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, before traveling on to visit 29 other communities during this year.
This traveling exhibit honors more than three million Americans who served in the Armed Forces in the Vietnam War. It also bears the names of the 58,281 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
In sharing his experience with seeing the traveling wall, Hale recalled that for years he drove past the old sign downtown hanging on a wall, bearing the name “Calender Foods.”
He said that while he never met any of the Calenders, he did find that they had a son who died in the Vietnam War.
“His name is on this wall, Marshall Calender,” Hale said. “So I took a picture of his name to share from the wall. Many from that era knew Marshall.”
Listed on the wall as Marshall L. Calender, Marshall Lee Calender died February 27, 1969, in the province of Quang Nam. He was born June 27, 1948, and resided in Rockford.
Calender reached the rank of corporal in the Marine Corps. before his death at the age of 20. His name can be found on panel 31W, line 77 of the wall.
“The Wall That Heals” has been displayed at nearly 700 communities throughout the nation since its initial dedication. On Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund unveiled the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States.
In addition to giving citizens a more convenient opportunity to see the wall by taking the replica on tours each year, this traveling exhibit also provides numerous veterans who have not been able to cope with the prospect of facing the wall to find the strength to do so within their own communities.
During the 2021 season, “The Wall That Heals” was on the road for more than 13,000 miles and visited 26 communities in the nation. During last year’s tour, the traveling wall reached nearly 200,000 visitors, and guided tours of the exhibit were provided to more than 12,000 students.
The three-quarter scale replica is 375 feet in length and stands 7-and-a-half feet high at its tallest point.
As with the original memorial wall, “The Wall That Heals” is erected in a chevron shape, and visitors can do name rubbings of individual service members’ names on the wall.
The replica is constructed of Avonite, a synthetic granite, and its 140 numbered panels are supported by an aluminum frame. Machine engraving of the more than 58,000 names, along with modern LED lighting, provide readability of the wall both day and night.
As on the full-size wall, names on “The Wall That Heals” are listed by day of casualty. Beginning at the center or apex, the names start on the east wall on the right-hand side, working their way out to the end of that wing. They then pick up again at the far end of the west wall on the left-hand side and work their way back in to the center or apex, joining the beginning and end of the conflict at the center.
For this year’s tour, the traveling wall will visit communities in North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, New York, Texas, Maine, and others before ending the tour on November 13.