(Update: Adding video, comments from volunteers)
LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Dozens of volunteers showed up early Wednesday morning to help assemble and prepare the Wall that Heals display, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica and Mobile Education Center, which opened to the public for viewing later in the day, for a visit to run through Sunday.
Plates with the engraved names of the more than 58,000 men and women who lost their lives during the Vietnam War were carried out, and put in place, one by one.
The Wall was transported by trailer through the streets of La Pine Tuesday afternoon, escorted by hundreds of motorcyclists, classic cars and law enforcement, as onlookers waving American flags cheered the long-awaited arrival.
The Wall is a three-quarter-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and stands 7.5 feet tall and 375 feet long for community members to engage with.
“We’ve been working on it three years. We are so proud to host it here in La Pine,” said Michele Hoffman, chair of the committee that helped bring the memorial replica to Central Oregon.
People from across the state began contacting Hoffman for volunteer opportunities when word got out of the Wall coming to Central Oregon.
La Pine will be the only stop in Oregon to see the wall.
“It’s a real honor for La Pine to get that. There’s not a whole lot of cities in the U.S. that get this honor,” said Gordon DeArmnond, a Crescent resident who helped assemble the panels on the Wall.
“It’s a lot of people that gave it all for us,” DeArmnond added.
Mahkai Meyer, a 14-year-old volunteer, also helped set up panels of the Wall.
Meyer says he plans on enlisting in the U.S. Air Force in a few years and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to start serving his community now. He wanted to pay his respects for the fallen after learning they weren’t treated well at times.
“I realized the Vietnam War was not very honored as the other ones, and that these over 53,000 people served and not much people respected them,” Meyer said.
One volunteer setting up panels was able to locate the name of his friend who served during the war.
If you visit the Wall, you can also learn about the history of the Vietnam War and make etchings of names on the wall.
Hoffman said although assembling of the wall is now completed, she encourages those who want to visit to wait until Thursday, as volunteers still need to be trained to provide the educational tours.
A welcoming ceremony will be taking place at 5 p.m. Thursday.