The Moving Wall: Vietnam Memorial

The Vietnam Memorial moving wall came through our town last week, and it was pretty phenomenal.  Visiting the actual memorial in Washington D.C. is definitely on my list of things to do with my kids, and soon, so I was thrilled when the moving wall came for a visit.

the moving wall

When I rounded the corner in the cemetery, where the moving wall was set up, I felt like I’d been slammed in the chest a little.  I was overwhelmed by the sight of all the names at once.  And the traveling wall is only half the size of the actual monument in D.C.

vietnam memorial wall

Precocious had already been to see it with her 5th grade class.  They’re studying U.S. history this year, and spent a great deal of time last week talking about the Vietnam War.  Her teacher is old enough to have sent a few friends off in the 60’s.

war memorial

There were a lot of people rubbing names of their lost and fallen family members to take home and tuck away in scrapbooks.  I had Charming do it because I wanted to give him a little taste of understanding, some token of the heaviness of what we were doing.

traveling wall

It gave the kids more context for war than I could have explained in a year.  In fact, we’ve had lots of discussions about war, what’s going on in the world, but seeing all those names was personal.

Touching the names, looking at them, and seeing which men were never even found.  It was a little difficult for me to do without weeping.


It was touching and educational.  It made me cry.  It made me grateful, it made me sad.  But at the end of the day I’m glad we got to have the experience of honoring our war veterans while teaching our children.

Have you been to the actual Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.?  I can’t even imagine seeing the real one.




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Hello there! I’m Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I’m super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we’re a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Suzette :

    We took our teen boys in the spring. It was very moving.

    • Petit Elefant :

      Moving is totally the right word. Oh boy.

  2. Chris :

    We took our family to the moving wall last year when it was in Ogden, Utah. The names of my husband’s uncle as well as many friends my father in law lost in Vietnam are on the wall, we sat with Grandma and listened to her talk about her big brother who died there and looked at his medals. It was a very moving experience for my family, especially my teenage boys who aren’t that much younger than many of the names on that wall.
    I blogged about it:
    It’s a powerful thing to see and one day I also hope to go to DC and see the real thing.

    • Allison :


  3. Michelle B :

    I have been to the Wall in DC. It is an amazing thing to see. I’m a bit of a history buff and DC in general is AWESOME! I don’t personally know of anyone that was in the Vietnam war but seeing all the names was so moving. It really takes something like that for you to really grasp what happened.
    If you plan on going to DC, I would highly recommend the Holocaust museum as well. That is my favorite time in history. If it’s something that interests you, you have to see it. I was bawling by the time I was finished. I think it should be on everyone’s list of must dos.

    • Allison :

      D.C. is SO on my list of places to go. I hear there’s a bike tour you can take of all the history sites. I’m all over that.

  4. Leadia Jarvis/The Breeder's Digest :

    The wall in DC will kill you. It is awe-inspiring, touching, sad…you run the gamut of emotions. Now that my last child is not so much of a baby, I’m hoping that we can make a family trip to Washington. It’s so much easier to appreciate history when you can actually see it and touch it.

    • Allison :

      I think it really will. I don’t know what it is about me, but I’m SO affected by war. Seriously, I think I might need an entire day to do it, look at all the names I can, and process it.

  5. Jen McDonald :

    You must live in the same town as me! We were planning on going to see it and actually went to the cemetery on Mon night (I was told it was here until Mon so assumed that included the evening–I mean what a great FHE!) only to find it gone…there were a bunch of other people there too and I’m assuming they made the same mistake we did. I was really bummed that we missed it…thanks for sharing!

    • Allison :

      I must! :)

      I missed it on the weekdays and was determined to make it happen on Sunday. There were so many people there Sunday night, it was like a party!

  6. Carey :

    I have been to the wall in DC. It is so overwhelming…words can not describe it. My father fought in Vietnam and to this day I am still in awe of his courage and valour.

    • Allison :

      That’s amazing. So many men I grew up with {not my father} went to Vietnam and came back in one piece. A lot of their friends didn’t though.

  7. Beth :

    I took a bus load of my high school students to see the wall in DC, and became thoroughly convinced that it was one of the most important things that I could have done for their education–even though it had “nothing” to do with our subject matter of Spanish. Many of these kids had never been out of our home state before, let alone to DC. There were kids who didn’t realize that the names represented people who went and *didn’t come back*. Others were absolutely blow away by the memorials that were left behind. One fine young man brought me a medal that he “found” on the ground, thinking that someone had dropped it and that it was valuable… and that I would know how to get it back to the person who dropped it. Fortunately, we were able to replace it in the location where it had been left and it was a learning experience that he still hasn’t forgotten. Go at night if you are able. It’s even more impressive when lit. We also went to the Holocaust Memorial, and I’m convinced that every member of the free world should go at some point to begin to understand what it was all about. Many teaching moments there, too, but that’s a topic for a different posting. :)

    • Allison :

      If I ever get to do my life list item of road tripping across the country in an R.V. D.C. is on that list. I want to be able to spend a lot of time there, with my kids, imparting loads of history.

  8. Joyce :

    Going to the wall with my husband, who is a Vietnam veteran was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had. We found the names of men he had served with in the USMC, we found the name of the young MIA whose name I had been wearing on a bracelet since he had disappeared. I took the bracelet off that day as I said good bye to him.

    • Allison :

      I don’t really have any words for that. None at all.

  9. vanessa :

    I used to live 10 mins from DC you must see it in person along with with many many other things. I want to wait to go back till the girls are a bit older

    • Allison :

      I think Precocious is old enough. Charming wasn’t sure.

  10. Tina :

    The Wall That Heals is coming to the Kansas City area next. I am a graphic designer and our company actually did the marketing for our area. It’s been awesome be apart of all of the design, meeting with veterans, seeing all of the dedication and work that goes into the production. I really got to work with some great people. I think the whole event is going to be just amazing.

  11. Lori :

    I went for the first time as a teenager with my family. My dad served in the Vietnam war. He is a big tough guy that looks like Wilford Brimley (just giving some background). He found a few names of guys in his group that were killed during a bombing. He broke down. I had never seen him do that before. It was pretty touching and I became quite patriotic on that trip. Those soldiers did something I would never do. Pretty awesome. That moving wall is cool, too. I saw it when it came to Ogden.

  12. Alma :

    I’m out in the area right now and I’m loving it. We go home tomorrow and are so sad to leave. Seriously, come stay at my parents’ house because they’d love to have you, they have a Wii, and you’d have a fairly inexpensive vacation. There is soooooo much to do in DC that is free (i.e. you already paid for it with your taxes). So come!!!

  13. imjustlori :

    My first trip to the memorial in D.C. was heart-crushing. I couldn’t walk the whole length of the wall in one go. Happily I had a friend with me who sat with me on the small hill while I took it all in and gained my legs back enough to walk to the end of the wall.

    Once my young one is a little older, we’ll take him along that walk as well.

  14. JOHNNY :