GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) — The Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened among the monuments in Washington D.C. in 1982. The same organization that founded The Wall created “The Wall That Heals,” a three-quarter-scale traveling replica.

Great Bend is the only town in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado or Nebraska hosting “The Wall That Heals” this year.

The impressive display opened to the public following a Thursday morning opening ceremony on the infield of Al Burns baseball field at Veteran’s Memorial Park. “The Wall That Heals” is 375 feet in length and almost reaches from foul line to foul line in the outfield of the ballpark.

The Great Bend High School band was on hand to play patriotic tunes before the early morning ceremony began.

The emcee of the opening ceremony was longtime Great Bend radio broadcast, Scott Donovan. The short program began with an opening prayer.

“We are gathered here this morning to pay great tribute with glad hearts and heavy hearts to those who have served in the Vietnam War. Those who have died during that era of military service. This is a solemn time for many as we realize what stands before us on this wall with those who have gone before us and paid the ultimate sacrifice with their blood.”

Donovan introduced the keynote speaker, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab. Schwab is a 1990 Great Bend High School graduate.

“It’s humbling, and I’m honored, you know, growing up here. My first trip to D.C. was a high school band trip, and obviously, we saw all the memorials, and the one I was really looking forward to was the Vietnam Memorial because that was my dad’s generation,” said Schwab.

Great Bend resident Kurtis Koch visited the display with his wife.

“Emotionally, it’s one of those highs that you experience, and you treasure. And, it’s a specialty for the state of Kansas and Great Bend and for our country,” said Koch.

Longtime Great Bend resident and Vietnam Veteran Larry Parsons first had the idea of bringing “The Wall That Heals” to town about three years ago. He employed an army of organizers, including his daughter Kim Nollette, to make it happen.

“All those names, all those people that were killed. They all mean something. They all had a family. And it’s just an example of their service they did and what we owe them and the sacrifice they made,” said Parsons, who also presented shadow boxes to Gold Star families from Barton County.

“Jon Bass was a fellow medic,” said an Ellinwood resident who served as a medic in Vietnam. When asked what it means to have the traveling wall in Barton County, he said, “I think it means a tremendous amount to those who served, and especially to those you served with.”

“We want to continue to make sure we never forget the sacrifices of those individuals that served in Vietnam, served during the Vietnam era. Those individuals that didn’t come home and also for those individuals, those families that were left behind,” said Vic Muschler, site manager for “The Wall That Heals.”

“It’s just a time to remember and a time to reconcile,” added the former medic from Ellinwood.

“The Wall That Heals” is open 24 hours a day now through Sunday, May 14.