The Grays Harbor Fairgrounds is scheduled to host a sprawling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., during the July 4th weekend next summer.
Sponsored by Rolling Thunder Chapter No. 1, based in Elma, the event will bring the American Veterans Traveling Tribute to the fairgrounds from July 3 through July 7 of next year.
“It’s a community effort that we’re putting together,” said Bill Parrish, local chapter president of Rolling Thunder. “It’s a moving experience. We kind of lucked out with the timing of the July 4th holiday. It all just kind of fell into place.”
The main feature of the tribute is an 80 percent scale replica of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall. The wall is 380 feet long and peaks at 8 feet high in the middle. The Wall contains the names of 58,523 who died or are missing.
Incorporated in 1995, Rolling Thunder Inc. is a non-profit organization with more than 90 chartered chapters — the Elma chapter is the state’s first and only — throughout the United States and members abroad. While many members of Rolling Thunder are veterans and many ride motorcycles, neither is a prerequisite. Rolling Thunder members are old and young, men and women, veterans and non-veterans. All are united in the cause to bring full accountability for prisoners of war and soldiers who are missing in action from all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public with the phrase “We Will Not Forget.”
Other displays included in the traveling tribute include:
• An exhibit depicting statistics of every war/conflict involving the United States.
• A timeline with photos of World War II.
• A Korean War tribute with timelines and photos.
• Vietnam War facts, figures and timeline.
• Displays honoring those who fell in military hostile action from the end of Vietnam to the 9/11 attacks.
• A 9/11 tribute with the names of all 2,984 casualties, organized by where they were located at their time of death.
• A Gold Dog Tag Tribute to all those members of the armed forces who have given their lives in the global war on terror. Each tag has the full name, rank, branch of service, date of casualty and location of casualty.
• Computers that contain the databases for locating the names on the wall and also a database to locate the names on the Gold Dog Tag display will be available to the public. Two hard copy books are also provided for locating the names on the wall.
The displays will be open around the clock while at the fairgrounds and admission will be free to the public, according to Parrish, who said the City of Elma and the fairgrounds are supporting the event.
“I think it will bring a lot of people to the fairgrounds,” Parrish said. “I hope this is a positive for the community, especially if we can honor some of the older vets out there.”