PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Veterans Day is just a week away. Leading up to that, a remarkable 6-day event, involving more than one thousand volunteers, kicks off Saturday morning in Pensacola. It will give people in the community, including you, the opportunity to honor those who died in the Vietnam War.
It’s been 30 years since the Wall South, a half-size exact replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., was installed in Pensacola. Since that time, thousands of people have come to the wall to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
“This is a very sacred place,” said Jill Hubbs, who serves on the foundation board that oversees the Wall South and who lost her own father in the Vietnam War. “I’ve been here at this wall many times over the years and I’ve seen veterans just sit and stare at the panels and you know they are thinking about their experiences in Vietnam. You know they are thinking about their comrades.”
The memorial wall is comprised of granite panels that display the names and reflect the lives, of the more than 58,000 service members who died in the Vietnam War.
On the day we visited, Hubbs pointed out her father’s name. “It’s right here,” she said as she gently touched the etched name. “Donald R. Hubbs. He’s actually technically still missing since March 17, 1968. He was a Navy pilot. The plane just disappeared off the radar of the coast of North Vietnam.”
Stan Barnard serves on the foundation board with Hubbs. He enlisted in the Vietnam War straight out of high school, at 18 years old. He said he visits often, in part because, “I have several friends on the wall.”
One of those was a high school buddy. “He was the last young man from Pensacola to be killed there,” said Barnard.
Along with an army of volunteers, Hubbs and Barnard are working to make sure no name on this wall, no person behind the name, is forgotten. They’ve organed an extraordinary “reading of the names” at the Wall South. There are 58,318 names on this wall, arranged alphabetically by the day and year the person died or went missing. Beginning Saturday morning, Nov. 5, and lasting for 6 straight days, each of these names will be read aloud by a total of more than 1,200 volunteers from the Pensacola area. The reading of the names will begin Saturday morning and will last for the next six days, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
Hubbs said, “It’s important that they are remembered and that their service and their sacrifice is not just etched on the wall, that it is said by someone and that they are remembered.”
Important to the memory of those who are gone, but also, say Hubbs and Barnard, to those who remain, whether they know a name on this wall or not.
Hubbs said, “It’s a place of hope and healing actually for many veterans, for their families and for the community as a whole.”
There is a great need for volunteers to spend 2 to 3 minutes reading one page of names over the course of the event. If you’d like to volunteer you can sign up for your preferred day and time here.
For more information on this and on actual Veterans Day events, visit the Veterans Memorial Park website here.