Heroes in the heartland

heroesheartlandIf you’d like to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial without making the trip to Washington, D.C., there’s a much closer option in Perryville, Mo. America’s Wall—a full-scale, exact replica of the D.C. memorial—will celebrate its grand opening May 18-19. Located on 45 acres of former farmland, the Missouri version of the wall is free to visit.Just in time for Memorial Day, the Missouri National Veterans Memorial in Perryville, Mo., will celebrate its grand open­ing on Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19.

Dedicated to honoring all U.S. soldiers and their families, the site’s centerpiece is “America’s Wall,” a full-scale black granite replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. With every detail painstakingly reproduced, the Show-Me State’s version of the wall is located on 45 acres of farmland donated by Vietnam War veteran and local resident Jim Eddleman and his wife, Charlene.

The wall was completed last fall, and the grand opening celebra­tion will commemorate work that has already been accomplished at the site and lay the groundwork for future projects, which include an event space, reflecting fountain, cemetery and more. Gov. Mike Parson is scheduled to be part of Saturday’s ceremony, which begins with a Huey helicopter flyover at 9:45. On Sunday, a worship service begins at 10 a.m. and includes NFL Hall of Fame inductee Jackie Smith, who will sing the national anthem.

The Missouri National Veterans Memorial is located north of Perryville off Highway 61 at 1172 Veterans Memorial Parkway. Ad­mission is free, although donations are encouraged to help support the nonprofit organization. For more information, call 573-547- 2035 or visit www.mnvmfund.org.

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