Pensacola's The Wall South: A Brief History
- June 27, 2015
- / Emmalee Sutton
- / Post Tags
Pensacola is proud to have the only half replica, an exact replica but half the size, of the Vietnam Wall South Memorial. Like all memorials in our park, it is a place for people to come pay respects to fallen loved ones. Through his book, "Wall South," Art Giberson, a Vietnam Veteran and photojournalist, has done an outstanding job in preserving the essence of what Wall South means to the Pensacola community and Vietnam Veterans everywhere. Through his words and his photos, he documented the creation, building, and dedication of the Wall South through in a way that encompasses the true emotion and compassion felt by those who visit the monument. Currently, Giberson is updating the book for future release sometime in the near future.
As Giberson expresses in the book, for many, the memorial is a place of healing. The coming of Memorial Wall South to our park was actually birthed out of one particular Veteran's journey to mending the wounds of the war. Pensacola Marine Corps Lance Corporal Lenny Collins fell in love with the Pensacola community during a visit he made to Vietnam Veteran and Pensacola Native, Rusty Davis. Collins made the move to Pensacola with his family soon after.
Painful memories and unshakable survivor guilt led Collins to erase the war from memory, but in Pensacola, he began to feel anew. In winter of 1987, the Vietnam Veterans of Northwest Florida brought the Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, from its home base in Washington, D.C. , to Pensacola. Collins was unaware of this memorial, as he'd made conscious efforts to remove his attachment to that era in his life. At first, Collins was turned off by the idea of investigating the wall, but one rainy Wednesday evening, he finally decided to pay it a visit. For the first time in years, Collins allowed people and events of the war to flood his memory.
Just a few days later, it was time for the memorial to be transported elsewhere and to leave the Pensacola community. It did not take long for Collins to realize what an impact his decision to visit the memorial had left on him for the rest of his life. Realizing the importance of this change and what it could do for other Vietnam Veterans like himself who struggle with life after the war, he began to put into action a petition to have a replica of Wall South installed in Pensacola. Over the next two years and after many fundraisers and countless meetings, on October 24th 1992, the featuring of Wall South in Veterans Memorial Park became a reality.