Cushing VFW wants traveling wall for keeps

Thursday, July 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CUSHING, Okla. (AP) _ A local Veterans of Foreign Wars post is looking to give the traveling Vietnam Wall a permanent home.

The traveling wall, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, is being retired and Post 1118 is interested in purchasing it, said J.D. Smith, service officer at the post. Members of the post voted last month to pursue the project.

``Having the wall in Cushing would bring a static wall to the Midwest, allowing veterans from nearby states an opportunity to see it,'' Smith said.

The Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington and a replica in Allentown, Pa., are the only static walls in the country.

``It will be wonderful thing for the community,'' said state Rep. Dale Wells, D-Cushing, who announced the project at Wednesday's fireworks display in Cushing.

Smith said bringing the traveling wall to Cushing would encourage tourism to the town of 7,200 in Payne County. He said people from throughout the area visited the wall when it made a stop in Cushing in 1999.

Purchasing the replica will cost about $50,000, Smith said, but moving it to Cushing could raise the price to about $100,000.

To raise funds, Smith said he will collect donations and work with local banks and the Chamber of Commerce. The Bank of Cushing was a partner to the post when it brought the traveling Vietnam Wall two years ago.

A site has not been officially selected, Smith said. But he and post members are considering Euchee Valley Memorial Cemetery, which includes a veterans memorial and is close to Oklahoma 33.

The cemetery has a circle known as the Veterans Circle where veterans can be buried and a memorial is present. The proposed site for the traveling wall would overlook the cemetery and the Veterans Circle, Smith said. It would be visible from the highway.

``The post is planning to build a war memorial for all wars featuring something unique to each period,'' he said. ``The first item is the wall and it will probably always be the main attraction.

Smith said he is hoping to work with Oklahoma State University's landscape architecture department for design and landscaping. He also is working on creating a committee for the project.