Vietnam vet: Prepare for ‘overwhelming’ emotions at Moving Wall

By Lydia Goerner | Aug 09, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Ted Pemberton, left, is the vice president of Friends of Wareham Veterans Council and completed two tours in Vietnam. He said he anticipates a strong emotional reaction to the Vietnam Moving Wall.

The Vietnam Moving Wall Memorial arrives in Wareham Aug. 17, and Vietnam veteran Ted Pemberton said it’s one of the biggest things that has ever happened in Wareham.

Pemberton lost 35 of his closest friends in Vietnam and is prepared to cry when he finds their names among over 58,000 on the wall.

“I never cry...but you go to the wall and it’s just so overwhelming,” said Pemberton, who was at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication in 1982 in Washington, D.C.

The Vietnam Moving Wall is a scaled-down replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C. It is 253 feet long and contains the names of those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. It arrives at the Wareham Middle School track Aug. 17 and will be there until Aug. 21.

Each day of the Moving Wall’s stay will have a different focus, beginning with a wreath ceremony by Blue Star Mothers on Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. dedicated to veterans killed in action and their families.

On Aug. 18 at 7 p.m., the presentation will center on those missing in action and POWs. There will be a POW/MIA flag presentation by the Rolling Thunder organization.

A presentation of commemorative pins by the Vietnam War Commemoration Committee will take place Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. in a ceremony dedicated to all Vietnam veterans and their families.

On Aug. 20, a ceremony at noon will focus on active duty military and families. Another ceremony at 2 p.m. will be presented by the Wareham-New Bedford Massachusetts Lodge of Elks.

Finally, on Aug. 21 at 10 a.m., the closing ceremony will be dedicated to participating communities and organizations.

The Moving Wall will be open to the public 24 hours a day. Over 20,000 people are expected to visit the wall.

While Pemberton will be finding the names of his friends who “played ball together, went to school together and to dances together,” he will also be finding closure, he said.

“It makes my heart feel so great to see it in one aspect but it also makes me sad in another aspect,” Pemberton said. Since many people don’t have the money or time to visit Washington, D.C. to see the full-size wall, Pemberton said the Moving Wall is a good option to find that closure.

Children are welcome to attend with their parents, said Jean Sarnelli, president of Friends of Wareham Veterans Council.

“One of our goals was to educate the youth,” Sarnelli said, adding that Wareham Middle School Principal Peter Steedman’s efforts to expose students to veterans, books and other resources on the Vietnam War have been beneficial for young people.

Parents should give children background on the Vietnam War before visiting, Sarnelli advised.

“Tell them about how our country wasn’t in agreement about our involvement in the war and that all of these names on this wall are people that gave their life for us so that we could have our freedom, so that you would be able to say and do what you want,” Sarnelli said.

Though kids are encouraged to come, Sarnelli said it is important to be respectful because it is “hallowed ground.” She said parents should prepare their children for the somber atmosphere and to see other people getting emotional.

“As soon as that wall stands up on the track, it’s respect,” Sarnelli said. “There’s no running around, there’s no loud voices. Because it overwhelms you, even as an adult, how many people gave their lives.”

Along with running, eating and smoking are not permitted on the track. There will be a welcome tent, a first aid tent, a support tent, exhibit tent with artifacts donated by veterans and a names tent with information to locate particular names on the wall.

“The town’s in for a shock,” Pemberton said. “I don’t even think the town realizes how overwhelming it’s going to be.”

Sarnelli said even those who don’t have a loved one who was in the Vietnam War should take the time to visit the wall and reflect.

“You can’t live in this country without identifying the people that make it how great it is,” Sarnelli said. “You may not know anyone on it, but you have to kind of think, ‘What if this was my husband, my son, my uncle? How would I want people to honor them and remember them?’ You have to put your heart and soul in the right place to feel what the rest of us feel when we look at the wall."

Volunteers will be available to help people find specific names on the wall, including the six names of those from Wareham.

Comments (5)
Posted by: barnstorm | Aug 09, 2017 15:54

Lydia Goerner.... FYI....Skip Sarnelli is the Vice-Chairman of the Wareham Veterans Council, not Ted Pemberton.


Posted by: BeachLover | Aug 10, 2017 07:53

Ted Pemberton is the Vice President of The Friends of The Wareham Veterans Council and has been instrumental in making sure enough funds were raised to bring the Vietnam Moving Wall to Wareham.

FYI- Barnstorm you misread what was written

Posted by: Fossil | Aug 10, 2017 10:51

Can anyone tell me where the Wall is being displayed in Wareham. Of all the press about it, I have yet to see where it will be?


Posted by: BeachLover | Aug 10, 2017 11:53

All ads - yard sign - banners state location. Andersson Field at Wareham Middle School

Posted by: Fossil | Aug 10, 2017 12:20



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