PALMDALE — The rumble of motorcycle engines mingled with strains of patriotic music as the Antelope Valley Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall made its way through the west side Thursday morning to the Palmdale Amphitheater, where it will be displayed until Nov. 13.
Disassembled and packed inside a trailer, the wall was accompanied by members of the Patriot Guard Riders and American Legion Riders as it traveled from a storage facility on Palmdale Boulevard, down 10th Street West to Rancho Vista Boulevard and the amphitheater at Marie Kerr Park, 2723 West Rancho Vista Blvd. (Ave. P).
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies also provided escort, clearing intersections and blocking traffic for the procession of some 50 motorcycles and a handful of flag-decked cars accompanying the wall’s trailer.
A few members of the community could be seen along the route with flags to salute the passing caravan, and those out for a morning walk at Marie Kerr Park stopped to see it pass.
A group of friends associated with the Vets 4 Veterans organization staked out a spot on Rancho Vista Boulevard in front of The Highlands church, with a flag-decked SUV and a ladder adorned with more American flags could be clearly seen by the procession.
It was the second time the group had participated, said Megan Hilzendeger, who waved a flag alongside friends Lou and Doreen Chiaramonte and Jim and Deb (who chose not to reveal their last name).
Once at the amphitheater, most of the riders joined other volunteers in carefully removing the panels from the trailer and setting up the memorial wall, securing the shiny black panels upright into the two arms of the wide, v-shaped display.
The display replicates the national memorial in Washington, just on a smaller, but still impressive scale.
Opened last night, this year’s presentation of the AV Wall runs until 8 a.m. Nov. 13. The memorial is open to the public around the clock during the display period. Admission is free.
The annual Veterans Day ceremony is planned for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11. A Candlelight Memorial Walk followed by Taps will take place at 9 p.m. that evening. Taps will be played nightly at 9 p.m.
The theme for this year’s event is “Welcome Home Antelope Valley Vietnam Veterans,” and photos submitted by local veterans will be included in the display area.
The Palmdale display will be staffed completely by volunteers, veterans, local service organizations and others. The volunteers attend an in-depth training so they can provide visitors with the best possible experience during their visit to the wall.
Volunteers help look up names in the computer database, assist in locating names on the wall and provide information about the wall design and layout.
The Antelope Valley’s Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial black granite wall on the Washington Mall that was designed by artist Maya Lin. It is affectionately known as The AV Wall, and its caretaker is Point Man Antelope Valley, and organization that works tirelessly to take the Wall throughout Southern California with the mission of educating, inspiring, and healing all who visit the memorial.
It is one of the rarest home-grown memorials of its kind in the nation and represents the Antelope Valley’s commitment to the men and women who served their country.
The AV Wall was designed and fabricated by Signs and Designs, Inc. of Palmdale. From 2005 through 2009, over $100,000 was raised locally to build the wall. It was dedicated at a ceremony at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark at Palmdale Plant 42 on Nov. 13, 2009.
The AV Wall has traveled across Southern California. It has been visited by thousands of men, women and children since its dedication and has provided education, healing and a gathering place for Vietnam Veterans to mourn and remember. A visit to the AV Wall offers a chance to show respect and honor those who lost their lives in Vietnam.
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