Vietnam Veterans Memorial “Moving Wall” Coming to Rhode Island

Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD is honored to be a sponsor of the Moving Wall initiative at Ponaganset High School. The Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., has been traveling the country for over 30 years. From 9 a.m. on November 1st until 6 p.m. on November 5th, the Moving Wall will be open to the public 24 hours a day, free of charge. As passionate advocates for veterans with disabilities, CCK is honored to participate in bringing this educational and iconic memorial to Rhode Island.

The Moving Wall first came to life inside the heart and mind of John Devitt, a former Army veteran, in 1982. During that year, Devitt visited Washington, D.C. for the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and to participate in the National Salute to Vietnam Veterans. This experience proved to be life-changing for Devitt, giving birth to both creator and creation. In the years following, Devitt set forth on a journey to transform his own experience into something universal.

By building the Moving Wall, Devitt turned his feelings and emotions into something tangible and transcendental – bridging the gaps between generations and individual differences to foster mutual understanding and a collective appreciation. More so, Devitt was able to provide that experience to those who do not have the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. Currently there are two structures of the Moving Wall traveling throughout the United States from April through November. While the sites are everchanging, the Wall’s impact remains constant, evoking a spectrum of emotions from all of those who witness it.

The upcoming Moving Wall visit’s schedule is filled with events for the public to enjoy. The site will host various keynote speakers, all of whom are personally connected to the Vietnam War. The first day will begin with Father Phil Salois, who will lead the Moving Wall community in an Escort and Blessing. Father Salois is currently the chief chaplain of VA’s Boston Healthcare System where he works with veterans of all eras, including Vietnam War veterans, Persian Gulf War Veterans, and veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to his religious work, Father Salois served in Vietnam with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. His years of in-service combat moved him towards a life devoted to the pastoral care of people like himself, who have struggled with postwar life. Later that day, there will be a candlelight vigil presented by Pastor Jim Ricci, a decorated Vietnam Veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star with “valor” for going above and beyond the call of duty. His presentation will be followed by the Big Read Kick-Off Reception in which the free book distribution of “The Things They Carried” will take place.

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The second day will include keynote speaker Wayne Smith, a Nobel Peace Prize Co-Recipient, who also appeared in Ken Burns’s film “The Vietnam War”. Smith spent 18 months in Vietnam as a combat medic and subsequently worked as a counselor at the Vietnam Veterans Center in Pawtucket. The third day will feature Chief Justice Frank J. Williams, who served five years in the Army including service in Vietnam prior to his career in public service. Day three will also include a demonstration by the U.S. Naval Academy Skydive Team beginning in the afternoon.
After several other speeches and events, the Moving Wall finally concludes its time in Rhode Island on Monday with a presentation from Ponaganset High School graduate and former astronaut, “Woody” Spring. Spring served two tours of duty in Vietnam, earning numerous awards. After service he went on to become an astronaut for eight years before spending the next five directing the Army Space Program Office in Washington D.C. Currently, he is working as an Aerospace Consultant with The Application Science Corporation Inc.
“The Flames of Freedom” bonfire will be lit each night at 6:30 p.m. to honor and remember the near 59,000 names inscribed on the Moving Wall. It further serves as a testament to their service, sacrifice, and contributions to this nation.

Throughout the Moving Wall’s visit in Rhode Island, the “Through the Eyes” Traveling Museum will be open to the public. The curator, John Hosier, was assigned to an infantry unit in the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam. He was wounded in combat and after recovering, served the remainder of his tour with combat units of the 173rd taking photographs for the Public Information Office. His photographs make up the bulk of the Traveling Museum’s display.

Through the combined efforts of Ponaganset High School, Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Grant, the Rhode Island Foundation, the Rhode Island Council for Humanities, and other dedicated sponsors, the Moving Wall will provide the community with an opportunity to show appreciation to all who served valiantly in the United States Armed Forces and sacrificed their lives during the Vietnam War.

Contact Chris Stanley at for more information.