Can’t get to D.C. for the real thing? Richard Caruso of Allenstown says the replica of the Vietnam wall will come to you 

  • UNH student James Fahey from Portsmouth touches The Moving Wall at the campus in 2017. GEOFF FORESTER Monitor file

  • Visitors look at the names at the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington during the 2015 Annual Memorial Day Observance ceremony. Jose Luis Magana / AP

Monitor staff
Published: 5/1/2022 1:01:41 PM
Modified: 5/1/2022 1:00:05 PM

Richard Caruso of Allenstown, who’s better than most at honoring veterans, was asked to show local organizers how to present their own tribute.

He’d be a consultant, they claimed, nothing more, but that’s not how things have turned out. Instead, Caruso – who, through his presidency of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle club’s local chapter has planned lots of events to raise awareness about MIAs – is back at the control board, this time pressing the buttons to coordinate the next visit from the Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the real thing, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in Washington, D.C.

The smaller Wall, part of Hookset’s bicentennial celebration this year, will be displayed May 5-8 at Donati Field, which is located behind the Hooksett Town Hall.

And old reliable will be in charge.

“They asked me to help,” said Caruso “because I am with the Rolling Thunder. They had no idea where to go.”

If you go, you’ll see a low, shiny, black memorial, identical to the original except for its size, with the slick, polished, beautiful granite that captures the respect paid to those who died.

Some, however, felt that the display was too unconventional and unassuming, its black coloring and low height displaying something that was far from the glory other D.C. monuments – glowing white and taller – had enjoyed for decades.

That was done on purpose, critics said, to reflect the war’s unpopularity and outcome. Either way, the Moving Wall has the power to touch people deeply.

“We want people to see it,” Caruso said. “The wall has the ability to heal, but you won’t get to it if you don’t know about it. Some never got closure, and this is the best way to tell them ‘We are here. You did not die in vain.”

The Moving Wall is one of two traveling tributes officially recognized by a Vietnam Veterans Memorial website. It’s 254 feet long and has 74 panels.

It also carries the names of the 227 Granite Staters killed during the war, and the six who remain missing. Each name will be announced that weekend.

Meanwhile, Caruso said he’s nailed down most of the details, coordinating the event with other groups, all determined to honor Vietnam vets and raise awareness about soldiers Missing In Action.

They include the Vietnam Knights, American Legion reps, Gold Star Families, Vietnam Veterans of America, Flags for Forgotten Heroes, and the Veterans Affairs (VA) department itself.

The Knights will build their traditional Battlefield Cross, a small tribute that uses a helmet, a rifle and boots to form a cross and honor a soldier killed in battle.

Meanwhile, Rolling Thunder will present its Missing-Man Table, which includes a small table covered with a white tablecloth, one candle, a book of faith, a glass and a rose in a vase.

The symbolic hope, which ties into the Thunder’s stated goal, is that a soldier who was missing in action will return, sit there, sip wine and have a meal.

The Opening Ceremony will be held May 5 at 5 p.m., and the event will continue until its Closing Ceremony on May 8, which also begins at 5 p.m. The Wall will be open 24 hours a day, giving veterans a chance to pay their respects in private. Wounds that can’t be seen remain.

“I know guys who cannot go to this, whether in D.C., or this one here,” Caruso said, “Some cannot visit with a lot of people around. They want quiet and they already have enough demons.

“It’s going to be a highly emotional weekend.”

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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