Wall That Heals: Maui welcomes public display of official Vietnam Memorial Wall replica
February 10, 2024, 5:30 AM HST
* Updated February 12, 6:08 AM
The Wall That Heals, the largest and most accurate replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, has traveled to more than 700 US communities since 1994. Now it is on display in Maui for the first time.
Janna Hoehn, president of Maui County Veterans Council, became emotional during her speech on opening night, as she addressed the 60 gold star families in the crowd at War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku.
“It’s an emotional thing, but I think that this wall, it’s named appropriately,” Hoehn told Maui Now on opening day. “I do think that it helps people to come here and feel closer.”
Hundreds poured into War Memorial Stadium on opening day to reflect, remember and honor the sacrifice of Vietnam veterans killed in action.
Jim Lapham, a member of Mana Souls MC, expressed his gratitude for his first opportunity to see the memorial in person. Lapham served in the Marine Corps as a military police officer in Vietnam in 1965. When asked what it means to have the replica on Maui, he told Maui Now, “It’s an honor, a total honor.”
A graduate of James B. Castle High School on Oʻahu, Lapham was 17 when he enlisted and lost contact with many of his brothers in arms after being involuntarily extended in the US mainland in 1966. “I wanted to go back,” Lapham said. The Vietnam veteran has not heard from them since leaving Vietnam.
“I’m sure I have friends on this wall,” Lapham said. “I just have to look for their names.”
Students from the Maui Waena Intermediate sixth grade class were one of the groups on a guided tour of The Wall on Friday morning, each having researched a local fallen veteran, carrying the name of the veteran on their student ID card.
The tour began at the Mobile Education Center, with exhibits built into its sides telling the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the divisive era in American history. It concluded at The Wall That Heals, where students rubbed the name of the veteran they had researched.
“It’s like magic,” said Hoehn, referring to the tradition of rubbing a name on The Wall That Heals. Visitors can also look up the name on The Wall of Faces to learn more about the fallen veteran.
In addition to being an educational opportunity, The Wall That Heals offers a place for veterans and affected families to heal.
There are 58,276 names on The Wall That Heals. In addition to the men, The Wall honors the death of eight servicewomen who gave their lives in Vietnam.
To the greater Maui community, though, 43 names will stand out. These are the fallen Vietnam veterans from Maui County, all of whom enlisted and were not drafted, according to Hoehn.
Hoehn played a major role in researching the 43 fallen veterans from Maui County, whose photos are now displayed at the entranceway of the War Memorial Stadium. This comes with the exception of one Maui man added to the Wall just this year – Lawrence R. Oliveira.
“These young men gave their all,” Hoehn said. “They deserve to be remembered. They deserve to be honored. And they shouldn’t be forgotten. A lot of families were affected.”
The exhibit will remain open and free for public viewing 24 hours a day through Wednesday, Feb. 14.
The Maui community may visit the War Memorial Stadium to extend a heartfelt welcome to The Wall That Heals, and to learn at the Mobile Education Center located in the parking lot. In addition, its list of events include:
- Saturday, Feb. 10: Agent Orange Awareness and In Memory Ceremony at 5:30 p.m.
- Monday, Feb. 12: Veterans Walk at 3 p.m. (Veterans may participate in a memory walk along the wall)
- Wednesday, Feb. 14: Closing Ceremony at 1 p.m.
For more information, visit https://www.thewallthathealsmaui.com/.