The fundraising and planning efforts of VVA Chapter 842, the VVA Mississippi State Council, and the community of Tupelo, Miss., culminated in the November 2 dedication of the Veterans Memorial Wall replica.
VVA National President John Rowan, as well as the VVA State Council presidents from Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana joined VVA Mississippi State Council President Rex Moody for the dedication of the memorial.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Veterans Park is a scaled replica of the Maya Lin-designed monument on the Mall in Washington. The Tupelo Wall is etched with the names of the 58,318 killed or still missing from the Vietnam War.
In 2011, Janie Alexander and Barbara Rushing spearheaded a movement to build the memorial, raising funds and energizing the community. The Mississippi State Legislature issued a bond for $750,000, and VVA Chapter 842, along with the Marine Corps League Detachment 1220, and the community raised the remaining funds needed for the $1 million project. Groundbreaking for the site took place three years ago, in 2014.
“The Tupelo memorial, like The Wall in our nation’s capital, personalizes the war. It’s all of America on the Wall–everybody,” said Rowan to those gathered for the dedication. The Tupelo Wall is 60 percent in size of The Wall in Washington. Made of granite, the walls of the memorial span 290 feet, forming a wide angle in the center. Also delivering remarks at the ceremony were Rex Moody, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn, and Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton.
Many communities have received the Traveling Wall and many people have visited the Wall in Washington, DC. The permanent Tupelo Wall will give those in the area year-round access to reflect and remember, even if they are unable to travel to the nation’s capital. At the end of the dedication ceremony, the people of Mississippi did just as the many visitors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.; they pulled out paper, and they rubbed their pencils over the engraved names of loved ones, friends, and veterans.
Now, with the dedication of the memorial behind her, Janie Alexander is focusing on the names and the stories of those who paid the ultimate price during the Vietnam War.
Photo: At the November 2 Dedication of the Tupelo, Mississippi, Veterans Memorial Wall replica: Left to Right: VVA Mississippi State Council President Rex Moody; VVA Georgia State Council President Spence Davis; VVA Alabama State Council President Wayne Reynolds; VVA National President John Rowan; VVA Louisiana State Council President Terry Courville; and JD Soileau.