A wall standing on grass with names on it extends to the distance. Leis are draped over it, flower offerings on the grass and people in the background

A little over two weeks ago The Wall that Heals, a touring replica of the Vietnam Wall Memorial hosted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, arrived in Maui. It was here for five days, and I went to visit it the day before it left. I saw the actual Memorial in Washington DC almost forty years ago, and although then I knew no one connected with the war and indeed little about the war, I found the Wall very moving.

When I heard of this replica’s visit to the island I decided that I wanted to visit. By the time that it had arrived on Maui I had a cold that was depleting my energy. Nevertheless, I did not want to miss the opportunity and one morning drove to the War Memorial Stadium where it was being housed. I was planning to be home within a couple of hours…that didn’t happen.

The Wall tours in a truck. When it arrives at its next destination, the sides of the truck serve as an exhibition relating the history of the war through words, videos and relics. The Wall itself is housed in sections inside the truck, and is taken out and assembled upon arrival at the new destination.

I found the exhibition very informative and moving, and this was a good part of what caused me to be later home than my planned couple of hours. With the Wall situated inside the stadium, noise from outside was muted, providing a quiet, reflective atmosphere for your time at the Wall. I started and one end and slowly made my way to the other. Previous visitors had left flowers and notes in memory of fallen family members. I located some of those soldiers, and it gave for me a greater sense of connection to these names just being ordinary people who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

I walked the length of the Wall, past the names of over 58,000 American soldiers who died between 1955 to 1975. The magnitude of the Memorial and accompanying exhibition, along with many conflicting questions and maybe sadness as well, caused me to forget my cold until I was on my way home.