WILDWOOD - Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 955 will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for a Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Wall on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The ceremony will take place at 12:30 p.m. at Columbus Park, Burk & Ocean avenues.

The Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, will have 58,913 names of fallen heroes from the Vietnam War etched in its black granite. Wildwood’s Wall will also have blank panels to allow for additional names, as determined by a periodic Department of Defense review.

“We picked Veterans Day for the groundbreaking because it is a special day that honors veterans of all wars,” said Vincent DePrinzio, Treasurer of Chapter 955 and Chair of the Wall Committee.

The wall will be laid out along the existing sidewalks of Columbus Park, with pavers added close to the Wall, like those at the Washington memorial. Behind the Wall will be elevated landscaping, including flowering cherry trees, which will provide flowers in the spring, shade in the summer and vibrant fall colors. Benches will be installed to facilitate contemplation and a reflective atmosphere.

“Wildwood is extremely honored to be the home of the Wall,” said Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. “We want veterans to know that we appreciate their tremendous sacrifices for our freedom. The other side of the park, on Atlantic Avenue, has a Memorial Lane, which honors residents of Wildwood from all wars who made the ultimate sacrifice. Wildwood welcomes all veterans with open arms.”

The etching of the fallen heroes’ names will begin next week at the factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin. $80,000 of the $150,000 cost has been raised thus far through donations. The Wall’s dedication is planned for Memorial Day, 2010.

“Memorial Day is the traditional kick-off to the summer season,” said Mayor Troiano. “We want to create a weekend that returns the holiday to its original intention, honoring US men and women who died while in military service. We plan a range of events and observances to honor the memory of those who paid the ultimate price for our country.”

Wildwood Commissioner Bill Davenport, a US Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, is among many dignitaries expected to attend the ceremony.

“This will be an historic day for Cape May County,” said DePrinzio, also an officer with the NJ State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America. “We have 22 fallen heroes from Cape May County and 9 from the Wildwoods. It will be a very emotional day.”

Donations can be sent to Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 955, PO Box 481, Wildwood, NJ 08260. For more information, please visit American Legion Post 184 on the web at www.wildwoodpost184.com and select “The Wall That Heals,” or call 609-827-7062.

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