Area should do more promotion of ‘wall’

Blair County may not be aware of a significant attribute in its midst.

Our various area communities, such as the city of Altoona, Logan Township and Blair County, as well as related organizations and all the service clubs, are missing opportunities to be gained by promoting what we have here permanently, such as “The Wall That Heals” complete replica.

Who knows it is here permanently and free to visit? There are no signs anywhere around the city or townships indicating that it is here and open to the public to visit.

“The Wall that Heals” is an exact replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., only smaller.

A few years ago, the traveling version of the wall came to central Pennsylvania. So many people came to visit the wall that local organizations decided to raise enough money so that it could become a permanent attraction in the Altoona area.

It is located at 2907 Pleasant Valley Blvd., in Altoona, directly in front of the Van Zandt VA Medical Center, and it’s open daily during daylight hours.

The wall lists the names of 58,202 Vietnam war casualties.

My late wife, Mary Ann, and I would visit the wall routinely because her MIA brother’s name is on that wall. In addition, I have other connections, as I was one of the first on station after the Vietnam conflict was declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

About six months later, my “Jarhead” brother-in-law, Johnnie Keiper, joined me in Vietnam. He was stationed in Da Nang while I patrolled the coast from the Mekong Delta to the DMZ every 21 days.

Yes, it is personal, but it is something significant that most of the U.S. does not have in their communities as we do.

Jan Mills Sr.



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