More than 200 veterans on motorcycles are expected in Columbus Sunday when the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall makes its way to the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center.
The National Infantry Foundation, the nonprofit organization that manages the museum, has approved a five-year agreement with Dignity Memorial to display the 48 panels on a two-acre site on the east side of the museum. Based in Houston, Texas, Dignity Memorial is a funeral, cremation and cemetery service provider who commissioned the creation of the wall in 1990. A three-fourths scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, the black faux-granite wall has the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and servicewomen who died or were declared missing in Vietnam.
Cyndy Cerbin, director of communications for the foundation, said interest is growing on the memorial walls arrival. Its really starting to heat up now, she said Wednesday.
Beginning at noon, riders will gather at the Georgia Visitor Information Center at the Williams Road exit off Interstate 185 in Columbus. A dozen veterans and possibly some relatives of Vietnam veterans will escort the tractor-trailer truck holding the panels when it leaves at 1 p.m.
Behind the truck will be the Buffalo Soldiers, also a group of veterans, and other riders in the convoy. The riders will be with the wall for the 17-mile trip to the museum. Arrival at the museum is expected sometime between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.
The ride is being organized by the Columbus Association of Motorcyclists or CAM. Its open to all motorcyclists and no registration fee is required. Riders taking part in the event will have an opportunity to purchase the first pavers laid along Heritage Walk in front of the wall.
Dedication of the wall is scheduled for March 21 with retired Col. Jack Jacobs, the recipient of the Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism on the battlefields of Vietnam. The wall is 8-foot-high and 240-foot long.
Since 1990, the wall traveled to more than 200 cities before before it was retired from traveling last year. Some veterans and supporters of the military saw the wall on display at the museum for two weeks in 2010 for a welcome home ceremony for Vietnam Veterans.