Renovation for Wall That Heals gives it new life
The Wall That Heals, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and mobile museum housed within a Featherlite trailer, was unveiled in a ceremony March 26, 2009, in Washington, D.C. Featherlite completed the renovation of the 45-ft. trailer that features new exhibits designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates of New York City, the largest interpretive museum design firm in the world.
The Wall That Heals has traveled to communities across the United States since 1996. The trailer housing The Wall That Heals was built in 2000, but the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) felt a renovation and new exhibits would give the trailer a new life and the opportunity for even more people to connect with those who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.
"The Wall That Heals and the traveling museum trailer are a vital part of VVMF's mission to preserve the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, promote healing and educate about the impact of the Vietnam War,” Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, said. “The replica brings the healing power of The Wall into communities across the United States, allowing people who may never have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. to experience the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.”
The Wall That Heals is an example of trailer refurbishing, a process where Featherlite takes an existing, pre-owned trailer and--through its Custom Service Center--repurpose the unit for a new mission. This process can allow the “new” mobile unit to be deployed faster and often with less expense.
When visiting a community, the half-scale replica is erected on site with room for privacy, and visitors can interact with the mobile exhibit or get information from volunteer staff stationed in the trailer. The renovated The Wall That Heals includes photographs of veterans, loved ones’ letters and items left at the full-scale Wall, historical timelines and artifacts. Nine doors on each side of the trailer lift up to reveal the exhibits and visitor’s information window. The exterior of the trailer also received a facelift with the trailer’s color changing from black to white. New graphics and more efficient and visible LED lights were added. The entire trailer can be lowered to allow for easier access to the trailer’s windows for wheelchair bound visitors. Updates were also made to the A/C system to better protect the artifacts, and the trailer’s suspension was rebuilt for a smoother tow.
Although the traveling exhibit allows people to pay tribute closer to home, The Wall That Heals also creates interest and desire in people to visit the actual Memorial in D.C. as well as raise awareness of the VVMF. The unveiling ceremony was held on the National Mall at the future site of the new Education Center at The Wall. Featured speakers included VVMF President Jan C. Scruggs and Tom Selleck, national spokesman for the new Education Center.
“Featherlite Trailers is very proud to be part of The Wall That Heals. It helps pay tribute to our country’s veterans and their sacrifices,” Featherlite Vice President and General Manager Eric Clement said. “We’re also proud of the many Featherlite employees who put so much heart into this important project.”
"The original trailer was built by Featherlite in 2000 and logs thousands of miles each year,” Scruggs said. “The fact that we went so long without an overhaul speaks to the quality of Featherlite's workmanship and the dedication of its employees to provide excellent products to all of its customers. VVMF is extremely pleased with this new trailer, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Featherlite far into the future."
A tractor donated by New Century Transportation pulls The Wall That Heals. Other sponsors include Disabled American Veterans Charitable Trust, Federal Express, GEICO, Harley-Davidson Foundation and Target Corporation.