Miniature Vietnam Memorial coming to Destrehan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 22, 2009


DESTREHAN — A half-size replica of one of Washington, D.C.’s, most moving memorials is making its way south for a brief stay in St. Charles Parish next month.

Harry M. Hurst Middle School in Destrehan will host “The Wall that Heals,” a traveling version of the Vietnam War Memorial. The 250-foot-long replica wall will be on display on the school’s football field and open to the public from May 7 through 10.

Harry Hurst social studies teacher Tammy Windmann has been the driving force behind getting the traveling tour to make a stop in the St. Charles area. She said next month’s visit, which wasn’t even supposed to happen until sometime next year, would fulfill a long time dream.

“I feel it is important to immerse young people in history,” Windmann said. “I have always tried to teach about the war because kids are just not that familiar with it.”

Windmann says given the circumstances of today’s world, a memorial that honors those who fought and died in an unpopular war has some present day applications.

“I think we can draw a parallel between the Vietnam War and the present war in Iraq,” said Windmann. “It’s a good way to show students that it is ok to be angry about war, but not OK to express that anger with those fighting in the war.”

In preparation for the wall’s appearance next month, Windmann said her classes have been doing some research on the Vietnam war and have looked into the people behind the names that appear on the wall in Washington, D.C. Windmann said the kids have learned that of the 58,268 names on the wall, eight are women, 825 are from Louisiana and seven of the names are men from St. Charles Parish.

“The students have really made personal connections with some of the people on the wall,” Windmann said. “I’m hoping that when they physically see the names on the wall, it will be a good opportunity to say goodbye.”

The wall’s visit will begin with an opening ceremony May 7 when the 18-wheeled truck carrying the wall makes its way from the interstate to the school. The truck will have a Louisiana State Trooper escort and will drive through a pair of extended ladders from St. Charles Parish fire trucks. Windmann said kids from the school will stand on the levee and waive small American flags to welcome the truck in.

Once the wall is set up, Windmann said it will be on display 24 hours a day for all four days. She said people will be on hand to assist visitors in locating a particular name. The wall will also come with a traveling museum with artifacts from Washington and a timeline of the war.