JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The Johns Creek Veterans Association broke ground in Newtown Park July 3 for installation of the Wall that Heals memorial monument.
Guest speakers at the event included Walkway Memorial Chairman Mike Mizell, with Johns Creek Veterans Association member Roger Wise leading the color guard march.
The Wall that Heals, a half-scale replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., measures 375 feet in length and stands up to 7.5 feet tall. Since it’s unveiling in 1996, the monument has toured some 600 cities.
The traveling replica last visited Metro Atlanta in 2017. On its visit to Newtown Park that year, the monument drew some 8,500 people.
“I was out there Saturday afternoon at 3 o’clock and this lady looked over her shoulder and she said Mr. Wise is that you?” Wise recalled.
“And I said yes it’s me, and she said can you wait a minute I want to introduce you to my son. I waited about 10 or 15 minutes and this grown man gets up from the replica with tears in his eyes and he said ‘thank you for bringing this wall here. I met my father today.’ His mother was three months pregnant with him when his dad died in Vietnam.”
The positive impact the “Healing Wall” made on Vietnam veterans on hand at Newtown Park sparked interest among the city, the Johns Creek Veteran Association and local philanthropists to set in motion a plan to provide a permanent home for the piece.
With a city commitment of $80,000, funding from the Johns Creek Convention and Visitors Bureau and other local contributions for installation and maintenance, the city was awarded the monument last year.
The wall displays the more than 58,000 names of U.S. service men and women who lost their lives in Vietnam.
The Veteran’s Memorial Walk in Newtown Park has 4 acres dedicated to respecting the military and veterans from past wars, making it among the largest memorials in the nation.
Construction and installation for the permanent replica is expected to be completed and open to the public Nov. 18.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker as one of the speakers at the event.