Vietnam memorial wall on display in Naperville Riverwalk

Jessica D'Onofrio Image
Thursday, November 9, 2023
Vietnam memorial wall on display in Naperville
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A Vietnam memorial wall on the Naperville Riverwalk is now on display for Veteran's Day.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A Vietnam memorial wall is now on display near the Riverwalk in Naperville.

A special ceremony was held Thursday morning as veterans groups remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The sun shined down on American flags and a 233-foot wall of remembrance, bearing 58,000 names of service people who gave their lives for the nation between 1957 and 1975.

James Oftedal served in the U.S. Army.

"Three of my buddies from high school and college did not make it home ,so it's very sentimental to me that it's 50 years," Oftedal said. "Their names are on the wall and it's , and it's just a fantastic way to remember them."

The wall is a locally constructed replica of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C.

"Naperville Responds for Veterans helped build the framework for the wall panels printed by a local company. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the United State's departure from Vietnam.

Wayne Fischer was a helicopter pilot in the Marine Corps.

"First time I was at the wall in DC, I looked up, and I could see like ghosts of Marines swirling overhead and I had to leave," Fischer said.

Fischer's squadron lost 17 men in Vietnam and the wall brings back difficult memories.

It's also bringing back the memory of 11 young men from Naperville who lost their lives. Individual plaques have been installed to remember them.

"There's a quiet voice, that they are all speaking, saying I was young. I died. Remember me," Oftedal said.

This site will also serve as the location for Naperville's Annual Veteran's Day ceremony this Saturday.

Organizers hope the community will come out to remember the fallen and those who served.

"It's important that people if they see a veteran just go up and thank them for their service," Fischer said. "Keep it simple and they appreciate it. It means a lot to them."

The wall will remain on display until Monday. Then it will be packed up and stored locally until the next memorial.