Wednesday , June 13, 2018 - 5:00 AM
The new Vietnam Memorial Wall replica, as shown here on June 12, 2018, is under construction at Layton Commons Park. It is expected to open in July.
LAYTON — After nearly a half-decade of effort, Layton’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall will be dedicated in a little more than a month.
Construction on the monument is scheduled to be finished in the next few weeks, with a dedication ceremony set for 6 p.m. July 14.
The project has been driven by Ogden resident and Vietnam combat veteran Dennis Howland. The president of the Northern Utah chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, Howland began working on the project in earnest in 2014.
Howland said he scoured every possible funding source he could think of for about five years to secure the $500,000 needed to pay for the wall.
He approached the Utah Legislature several times before finally getting the body to approve a one-time appropriation of $100,000 in 2017. Howland recruited Layton City, which donated land and infrastructure and has helped with construction.
Layton Mayor Bob Stevenson has said he hopes the wall will serve as a landmark and a tourist draw.
Regular fundraisers were held during the past few years with money being collected in a piecemeal fashion. Personalized bricks that will be placed around the monument were also sold to help fund the project.
Construction finally broke ground just after the new year.
“It’s been kind of a long haul I guess you could say,” Howland said. “But it’s something I’ve always wanted to see and I feel like I owe it to all my brothers and sisters who fought (in Vietnam).”
The wall is being built by a Texas-based company called American Veterans Traveling Tribute. The company has constructed similar walls elsewhere around the country, though most have been smaller than the Layton version.
The names of all 58,000-plus Americans who died fighting in Vietnam will be etched into the 360-foot long wall. The stone engravings were done in Texas, then shipped in pieces to Utah.
Just before the July 14 dedication, a “Walk to the Wall” will begin at 5 p.m. at Hawthorne Street and Wasatch Drive. The walk will be lead by local Honor Guard and bagpipe organizations and by members of the Northern Utah Vietnam Veterans of America. The dedication will include speakers, music and a flag raising.
Following the dedication, a USO tribute show featuring Bob Hope impressionist Bill Johnson will be held at 8 p.m. at the Ed Kenley Centennial Amphitheater, 403 N. Wasatch Drive, Layton. All portions of the dedication are free and open to the public.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 28,000 Utahns served in Vietnam and more than 50,000 Vietnam veterans live in Utah today.