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375-foot Vietnam Memorial Wall to come to Citrus Heights

Updated 9:52 p.m., Nov. 13–
By Mike Hazlip— The Citrus Heights City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a $10,000 grant to help cover the costs needed to host “The Wall That Heals,” a traveling Vietnam memorial and education center.

The grant was requested by Paul Reyes of American Legion Post 637 to bring the exhibit to Citrus Heights. The application request calls for the wall to be displayed at Rusch Park for one week in March 2023, and will be viewable for free.

According to a staff report, the grant will cover a significant portion of the estimated $18,600 needed to bring the exhibit to Rusch Park. Ray Riehle, who presented the application to the council during Thursdays meeting, said the remainder of funds will be raised through community donations.

The exhibit is a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and spans 375 feet in length, according to the organization’s website. The traveling project also includes a 53-foot trailer serving as a mobile education center.

Names of the more than 58,000 service members killed in the Vietnam War are etched into synthetic granite panels, which are transported around the country and assembled at each site. Visitors can make “rubbings” of the names to take home, just as in the actual wall in Washington D.C.

Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins read a resolution from the city during the Nov. 10 council meeting, after saying one of her brothers served in Vietnam and returned “unwounded, but certainly not unaffected by the war.” She described her experience visiting the memorial in Washington D.C. as an an emotional one.

“I went to the wall, and I found the space where his name would have been and it wasn’t there,” Bruins said. “And I just stopped and said a prayer, thank God that he came home.”

Councilman Bret Daniels called the negative reception many returning Vietnam veterans received as “one of the biggest stains on American history,” saying the exhibit is one way to “right that wrong.” Daniels added that he would support a permanent memorial in Citrus Heights, which is a long-term dream Reyes has.

Councilman Steve Miller called the exhibit “a great thing” saying the memorial in Washington D.C. “hits you like a ton of bricks,” when seeing it in person.

Grant funds will come from the city’s History and Arts Grant Program, which was created in 2017 and provides funding up to $10,000 for qualifying projects. Notable past projects have included at $10,000 grant for the creation of a recently released book on the city’s incorporation history, as well as a History Day at the Rusch Home.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly said Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins brother was wounded in Vietnam. It has been updated to say “unwounded.”

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