Coral Springs will honor those who served in the Vietnam War, including more than 58,000 Americans who gave up their lives for the country in the war, when it welcomes the Moving Wall, a half-sized replica of the original memorial in Washington D.C., at the Sportsplex from Oct. 22 to 26.
Spearheading the effort to bring the wall to the city is Commissioner Lou Cimaglia, who served in the Army Reserve for eight years. “I got an unbelievable committee; we have been working on this for almost two years,” he said. “We will have the Wall in our city soon; I cannot tell you how excited I am.”
The initiative is sponsored by the Veterans Coalition of Coral Springs, an organization that has more than 50 members. “We haven’t taken a penny from the city,” Cimaglia said. “The Coalition is contributing $5,000; we have raised more money because we want to do the job right. The response from the community has been fantastic.”
Ron Stancavage, acting president of the Veterans Coalition and a Vietnam War veteran himself, suffered a heart attack not long after he had planned to a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the original memorial. “I am glad the Wall is coming here; nothing is going to stop me from visiting it,” he said. “I am not the only member of the organization that is a Vietnam War veteran. We are all excited; I am sure we are going to have a big turnout.”
Ceremonies will be held daily to pay homage to those who lost their lives in Vietnam and to remember the contributions of the others who served in the war. People in the community will have the opportunity to leave mementos at the Wall; these will be taken to the Moving Wall Museum at Washington, D.C.
“My discharge from the Army Reserve came in February 1964,” Cimaglia said. “After I came back, I began thinking of those who served in the war and those who lost their lives. I wondered if there was a way to thank them for all they did for the country. I am glad we got a chance to do that; this is a very solemn and important event.”
The guest speaker at the ceremony on the opening night will be Mayor Skip Campbell. “We will have people coming from all over South Florida,” said Cimaglia. “I have invited mayors and commissioners from all the cities in the area to the opening ceremony; I have asked them to bring with them all the Vietnam veterans they have in the city so that we can at least recognize and thank them for their service. All the speakers each night will be veterans; we want to make every night special.”
The Moving Wall, which was built by John Devitt, Norris Shears, Gerry Haver and other Vietnam veteran volunteers to honor the 2.7 million American men and women who served in Vietnam, went on display for the first time in Tyler, Texas, in October 1984. Since then, two structures of The Moving Wall travel the country from April through November.
The idea behind bringing the Wall to the city is to bring about healing for veterans, many of whom have not visited the memorial in Washington, D.C., and their families. The event will also serve as an important history lesson for youngsters in the community, Cimaglia believes.
“Teaching youngsters about what happened in our history; that is what this is all about,” he said. “Bringing the wall here is going to give us the opportunity to do just that.”