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Veterans Break Ground on Wildwood’s Own Vietnam Wall

 

By Lauren Suit

WILDWOOD — Greg Mazzotta’s, dream to have an enduring memorial for Vietnam Veterans in this city was one step closer to reality today at 12:30 p.m. in Columbus Park.
When Mazzotta, former president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 955, passed away in September of 2008 his cousin, Vincent DePrinzio, took up the cause.
DePrinzio, Treasurer of the VVA Chapter 955, whose hunts for donation, sponsors and city support, has made him a familiar face around town, said there’s no stopping him.
“That Wall is coming to Wildwood,” he said.
DePrinzio said that his cousin started thinking about the possibility of a permanent wall after the success of the “The Wall That Heals,” a half-scale replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., that traveled to the city in July.
The Wall, will have 58,913 names of fallen heroes from the Vietnam War etched in its black granite. The etching of the fallen heroes’ names will begin next week at the factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Wildwood’s Wall will also have blank panels to allow for additional names, as determined by a periodic Department of Defense review.
The Wall will be laid out along the existing sidewalks of Columbus Park, with pavers added close to the Wall, like those at the Washington memorial. Behind the Wall will be elevated landscaping, including flowering cherry trees, which will provide flowers in the spring, shade in the summer and vibrant fall colors. Benches will be installed to facilitate contemplation and a reflective atmosphere.
The group that brought the traveling Wall in July would be the same group that manufactures the lasting wall, however the aluminum panels wouldn’t be able to last in the salt air. DePrinzio said that the city’s Wall would be specially manufactured to withstand the weather here.
The specialized panels come with a hefty cost. DePrinzio estimated that the final price tag would be $150,000.
However, with “some serious fundraising and generous donations,” DePrinzio said $80,000 of the $150,000 cost has been raised.
“Wildwood is extremely honored to be the home of the Wall,” said Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. “We want veterans to know that we appreciate their tremendous sacrifices for our free-dom. The other side of the park, on Atlantic Avenue, has a Memorial Lane, which honors residents of Wildwood from all wars who made the ultimate sacrifice. Wildwood welcomes all veterans with open arms.”
The Wall’s dedication is planned for Memorial Day, 2010.

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