By CHRIS HOLMBURG
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The McClure Archives and University Museum will host The Wall That Heals, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., from June 29-July 2 at the Warrensburg campus.
The Wall That Heals will be on the west lawn of the James C. Kirkpatrick Library, and the Mobile Education Center that accompanies the exhibit will be set up across Missouri Street. The Mobile Education Center is an enclosed exhibit that gives the history of the Vietnam War, and will rotate digital images of those listed on the wall from Johnson County and neighboring counties. There will also be a listing of the names with their location on the wall so that friends and family who visit can easily find a specific name.
Amber Clifford-Napoleone, McClure Archives and University Museum director, submitted the application to host the exhibit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and is overseeing the event preparations. The Provost’s Office sponsored the cost of hosting the exhibit.
Clifford-Napoleone said there were several reasons to bring The Wall That Heals to campus.
“First, it is vital that we honor those veterans of the Vietnam era, including those listed on the Wall, because for most of those veterans, homecoming was not easy,” she said. “They deserve our attention and our recognition of the sacrifices they made.”
Additionally, she said it was important to have something that would appeal to the entire community, and to honor UCM’s reputation for honoring military service members, veterans and their families.
Clifford-Napoleone said she expects hundreds of visitors a day, and has volunteers coming from as far away as Wichita, Kansas, and St. Louis.
In 2010, The Wall That Heals was in Blue Springs, Missouri, and attracted 50,000 visitors, according to the city of Blue Springs website.
“We have The Wall That Heals on an important weekend as well: the Thursday-Sunday before the Fourth of July,” Clifford-Napoleone said. “I have no doubt that the national holiday and The Wall That Heals will mean many visitors to campus, and to Warrensburg.”
The scheduled stop in Warrensburg during the weekend prior to Independence Day was a coincidence. Clifford-Napoleone said that weekend was assigned by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and was not requested.
“It was completely random,” she said. “Completely. It’s lucky.”
Nicole Hume, development manager at KMOS-TV, contacted Clifford-Napoleone once she heard the exhibit was coming to campus.
“I saw that Dr. Clifford had brought in The Wall That Heals,” Hume said, “and I thought ‘I’m going to see if I can collaborate with her on anything.’”
Hume and Clifford-Napoleone came up with what will be a unique experience for those that visit the exhibit. Clifford-Napoleone’s anthropology students conducted interviews filmed at the KMOS-TV studio with Vietnam-era veterans. Those interviews will be made into an interactive exhibit, allowing visitors the opportunity to learn about this conflict from someone who experienced it.
Hume later applied for and received a grant to show an approximately 1-hour screening of Ken Burns’ new documentary, “The Vietnam War,” ahead of the national premier in September at three locations, including UCM. That screening will be Friday, June 30 in the Twomey Auditorium tentatively at 6:30 p.m. There will also be screenings at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, and at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri.
The screening of “The Vietnam War” will be followed by a panel discussion of the Vietnam War. The panel will consist of people who have knowledge of the Vietnam War or who have experience in the Vietnam War in some capacity.
Clifford-Napoleone said the application process to host the exhibit is very competitive. Cynthia Long, program manager of the VVMF in Arlington, Virginia, said the VVMF received about 90 applications to host The Wall That Heals in 2017, and 41 sites were selected.
“Generally speaking,” Long said, “applicants that have hosted The Wall That Heals, who are flexible as to their dates, and who provide the vision of an exclusive event focused on honoring and remembering those who served in Vietnam are likelier than others to be selected.”
There will be a memorial service for Vietnam-era veterans and their families Thursday, June 29. The memorial service will also honor the 10 men listed on The Wall from Johnson County and their families. Clifford-Napoleone said she is trying to contact those families to invite them to the service.
On Saturday, July 1, in conjunction with the Missouri Military Museum in Jefferson City, Missouri, the office of Military and Veteran Services on campus, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, there will be people from the VA on campus to help veterans with things like housing assistance, education assistance, procuring IDs, and tax records. There will also be someone on campus to give veterans haircuts.
“We’re going to have all of that stuff in one place on that Saturday,” Clifford-Napoleone said, “so that veterans can do sort of a one-stop assistance shopping without having to go to a lot of different offices on a Saturday, so no one has to take off work.”
Additionally, Clifford-Napoleone is working with Star Nance, assistant professor of education and social studies director, to help area high school teachers create and implement curriculum on the Vietnam War era, an area that is often overlooked in classrooms.
The McClure Archives and University Museum will be commemorating World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. The display opened April 10 and will be open through the summer. Vivian Richardson, McClure Archives and University Museum assistant director, is on the planning committee and has been working on completing the display. Graduate assistant Colton Westbrooks and student workers Ashley McGuffey and Cristiano Mayorga have worked to set up the display and will be at the archives to assist visitors.
With the broad appeal of the exhibit and the associated events being organized in association with the exhibit, the rigor of having the exhibit open 24 hours a day, and the holiday weekend, Clifford-Napoleone said there is a need for many volunteers. She said that anyone can volunteer, but they must be added to a volunteers list in advance and they must attend a training session from 6 to 8 p.m. June 28.
Those interested in volunteering can email Clifford-Napoleone at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the volunteers list.
Tentatively, The Wall That Heals is scheduled to open at sunrise June 29, and will remain open and staffed 24 hours a day until it closes at approximately 3:30 p.m. July 2.