BEHIND THE WALL: Museum Spearheads Veterans Project, Will Host Traveling Memorial

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Plans to bring the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to Northwest Florida are well underway. The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida (HMNF) will bring this national traveling replica to Okaloosa County in June 2010. The presentation is part of a series of programs and events presented by the regional history museum that honor the 75th anniversary of Eglin Air Force Base and highlights the area unique military heritage. The HMNF will host the traveling memorial, related exhibits, speakers and ceremonies at the Northwest Florida Fairgrounds, one of three U.S. Vietnamese refugee camps coordinated by Eglin Air Force Base and local volunteers in 1975. The highly decorated veteran Retired Air Force Col. Geoege "Bud" Day is scheduled to speak at ceremonies opening public visitation to the Memorial this summer.

"Our museum is not simply a storehouse. By bringing the Wall we are actively engaging the community in a project that honors history and the people who were a part of it." - Michelle A. Severino, Director, Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida

This summer, the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida (HMNF) is bringing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and Traveling Museum to Okaloosa County.

This half-scale replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C. - also known as The Wall That Heals - has been traveling around the country since 1986 bringing with it a message of history, hope and healing. The museum is taking every opportunity to engage its military-rich community in every aspect of the presentation.

Because education is central to the HMNF's mission the Wall visit is being used as an opportunity to educate teachers, students and the general public about a largely misunderstood conflict, a pivotal time in American history, the role of the local military bases and the stories of involvement shared by local veterans, refugees and others.

While the Memorial is on view, the HMNF will feature unique, never-before seen collections and original materials including items from the Vietnam Center and Archives at Texas Tech University, the History Office at Eglin Air Force Base and Arturo Studios. Images from the Brian Grigsby Collection at Texas Tech University pertaining to Eglin its role as a site for Vietnamese refugee camps - known as tent city - will be featured. A multi-media presentation developed by students from University of West Florida will include footage of student interviews with veterans from WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

A motorcycle escort over the state line and through the county will include hundred of local veteran, active duty, civilian riders.

Lectures by historians, scholars and honored veterans including George "Bud" Day are scheduled during the exhibit period. Special ceremonies will be held as well. See a complete listing of scheduled activities at w

WHAT: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and Traveling Museum
WHEN: June 17-20, 2010
WHERE: C.H. "Bull" Rigdon Fairgrounds, Fort Walton Beach, Florida
WHO: Presented by the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida (HMNF)
WHY: Honor History, Local Veterans and the 75th Anniversary of Eglin Air Force Base; An Educational
Opportunity for the HMNF; An Opportunity for the HMNF to put local history/experience into a larger national/international context.


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Michelle A. Severino
Heritage Musuem of Northwest Florida
(850) 678-2615
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Gina Marini
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