Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Maritime Day connect in Lewes

LEWES — The Cape May-Lewes Ferry’s Lewes Terminal will host two significant attractions — the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall and Maritime Day — to honor and recognize the sacrifice and service of combat soldiers and merchant marine professionals.

Sponsored by American Legion Family of Post 17, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall will bring the message of healing, honor, service and sacrifice to southern Delaware through Monday, May 20 at 2 p.m.

The wall arrived Thursday.

The ferry’s annual Maritime Day celebration, which will include a remembrance ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall, is set for today, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall and to Maritime Day activities are free.

“The ferry is proud to be a part of this unique combination of reflection, remembrance and celebration,” said Heath Gehrke, director of Ferry Operations.
“Lewes has a unique place in the annals of American maritime history and the ferry is part of that history. The U.S. Merchant Marine has a proud history of supporting our nation’s military, including during the Vietnam War.

“We hope the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall can help those who are still impacted by the war to find solace and that others, too young to fully comprehend that era, will learn about the sacrifices and dedication of the men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine and Armed Forces.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall is being hosted by Post 17 in observance of the 100th Anniversary of the American Legion and to celebrate Armed Forces Day, today.

The chevron-shaped wall will be located on the Lewes Terminal Green of the Cape May – Lewes Ferry. The Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall is an exhibition featuring a 250-foot scale replica of the Washington, D.C. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which honors more than 58,000 soldiers who died serving this country in the Vietnam War.

Tracing a name from the wall.

“The Vietnam Wall stands as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that service-men and -women made and helps to heal the wounds from that war,” said Ed Bergen, American Legion Post 17 Commander. “The Moving Wall was created to allow people from across America — who are unable to make the trip to Washington, D.C. — the opportunity to visit the monument in their hometown.”

In addition to bringing The Moving Wall to Lewes, this 2019 celebration includes the kickoff of Auxiliary Unit 17’s Military Banner Program. Local military families will have the opportunity to have their loved ones’ photographs and service memorialized on banners that will hang from the city street poles prior to the arrival of The Moving Wall through the Fourth of July.

“We are so excited for the opportunity to bring The Moving Wall to Lewes so that all can experience it and honor our fallen heroes,” said Auxiliary Unit 17 President Murt Foos.
The festival is an interactive way to learn more about our maritime industry and its many vocations. The event will be held rain or shine.

Sponsored by the Freedom Boat Club, the festival schedule of activities includes:
• 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Interactive Exhibits, Information Booths & Nautical Displays.
• 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Vessel Tours
• 11 a.m. Remembrance Ceremony during Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall Tribute on Terminal Green
• 12 noon Maritime History Discussions (Bill Manthorpe – The Navy on Cape Henlopen and Dr. Gary D. Wray of Fort Miles Historical Association – “Fort Miles and Maritime History”
• 1 p.m. Life raft inflation demonstration by Ferry personnel

A remembrance ceremony to honor sailors who perished on the Lewes beaches will take place at 11 a.m. As part of this ceremony, a wreath will be placed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall to honor the Merchant Marines and Vietnam Veterans.

Some of the day’s exhibitors include the Lighthouse Foundation, Fort Miles Historical Association, Delaware Bay and River Co-op, Pilots Association for the Bay and River Delaware, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla, Delaware River and Bay Authority, Lightship Overfalls Foundation, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Bowers Beach Maritime Museum, Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, Freedom Boat Club, Cape Water Taxi, American Professional Mariners Association, Bayshore Center at Bivalve, Sea Scouts, and USCG Academy Admissions Partner.

On the Rocks,” the Cape May – Lewes Ferry’s waterfront eatery, will be open to serve food and beverages.
In 1933, the United States Congress declared May 22 as National Maritime Day. The designation honors the contributions of the American merchant marine – civilians who have defended the freedom of the United States since 1775 and who executed the largest sealift the world has ever known during World War II. Observance of National Maritime Day also honors the maritime industry and the benefits it brings Americans in terms of transportation, jobs, goods, and recreational opportunities. For the past eight years, the Lewes maritime community has observed this national day of remembrance at the Ferry’s Maritime Day festival.

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