GLADSTONE - This year Gladstone's 4th of July celebration will include The American Veterans Traveling Tribute and Traveling Wall, an 80 percent scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
The American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT) and Traveling Wall will visit Van Cleve Park in Gladstone from July 3 to 7. Typically, the wall arrives on a Wednesday and is removed on a Sunday. but the city and AVTT made special arrangements so that the wall could be available to residents over Independence Day.
The 370 foot wall is 8 feet high at its apex and contains every name that is engraved on the original. It is the largest traveling tribute wall in the United States, and it has been traveling for 14 years.
"The focus is celebrating the freedom purchased by men and women who sacrificed their lives," said Don Allen, CEO of AVTT. "We are a tribute to all who stood up for America.
A ceremony will be held to honor local veterans and active-duty service men and women. The tribute wall and tribute events were brought to the city by the combined efforts of local community groups. "The city of Gladstone, American Legion Post 71, and baybank put $6,000 together to bring in this wall," said City Manager Darla Falcon.
The addition of the tribute wall to this year's Fourth of July is also a celebration of the city's 125th anniversary. "I just feel a real personal connection with veterans, and since it's the 125th anniversary, what better way to celebrate than bringing this to Gladstone?" said Falcon.
The mission of the project is to travel the nation to honor, respect, and remember men and women who served in the armed forces, and to pay special tribute to those died in that service. Since the tribute wall is mobile, people have an opportunity to honor and respect veterans and active military personnel without having to travel great distances.
Volunteers are still needed to help prepare for the wall and to help during the wall's stay at Van Cleve Park. Those interested in volunteering should contact the Gladstone City Hall at 428-2311.
"We want to make sure those who can't travel to Washington D.C. get to honor, respect, and remember," said Allen. "It is our experience that many who can go do not go to Washington, D.C., but when sponsors bring AVTT to a nearby location they often can't resist the opportunity to attend and experience some of the reflection."
For more information about volunteering and the Traveling Wall's trip to Gladstone contact City Manager Darla Falcon at 428-2311. More information about AVTT and the wall itself can be found at www.avtt.org.