LAYTON — Each year, about 3 million people visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
But for Utahns who don’t have the time or cash to travel all the way to our nation’s capital, the next best thing may soon be in Layton.
Layton city officials announced last week that their city will become the permanent home to a large replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The 360-foot-long replica wall will be placed at the Layton Commons Park, 437 N. Wasatch Drive.
Dennis Howland, president of the Northern Utah chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said the project is expected to cost about $500,000 and will be funded entirely through private donations. Howland said the wall be be approximately 80 percent the size of the original.
“This will be an incredible monument to Vietnam veterans,” Howland said. “It’s only the second replica of this size to have a permanent home in the U.S.”
Howland said construction on the wall is expected to begin in about a year. Personalized bricks, which will be set around the wall, are being sold to help pay for the project. Howland said money will also be raised at the first ever “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Parade,” 9 a.m. June 13 in Layton as part of the city’s annual Sounds of Freedom program, which this year will center around Vietnam veterans.
The parade will run along Gentile Street and Fort Lane before dissolving at Layton Commons Park, where flag ceremonies, speeches and an evening concert will be held.
Mayor Bob Stevenson said the city was approached by Howland about a year ago. Howland pitched the idea for the wall to Stevenson and city council members, and the city responded positively.
The city is donating the land for the project and will also donate some other infrastructure, Stevenson said.
The mayor said the wall will properly honor Vietnam veterans and likely serve as a tourist attraction in Layton City.
“We think this is going to become a very sacred site in our park,” Stevenson said.
Layton Councilwoman Joyce Brown, who oversees the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, said the city looked at several locations for the wall, but finally settled on a spot in the Commons Park.
“It’s out of the way of the regular use of the park,” Brown said. “We wanted it close to where people gather, but we also didn’t want distractions. It’s still part of the park, but it’s in a quiet place where people can reflect.”
The original Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall sits in the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and is etched with the names of more than 58,000 service members who died or who were unaccounted for during the Vietnam War.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 28,000 Utahns served in Vietnam and more than 50,000 Vietnam veterans call Utah home today.
For more information on how to donate to the Layton wall project, contact Howland at 801-389-1893 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.