A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza from Thursday through Sunday with opening ceremonies to take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Closing ceremonies will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Veterans from all conflicts have been invited to relate their personal experiences of war through photos, letters and stories. These open forum/round-table sessions will begin at 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. only Sunday in the Courtyard of the Oaks, the site of the replica.
The keynote speaker for the event, Forrest Frields, a Thousand Oaks city commissioner and Vietnam veteran, will moderate the forum and discussion. "The concept behind this round-table function is to tell people how it really was," Frields said. "To give people a better insight to what goes on in war. Unfortunately, a lot of it is waiting around and being scared."
Former front-line troops, helicopter pilots, rear area support personnel, intelligence operatives and mechanics from World War II to the Persian Gulf War will be in attendance. Thousand Oaks Mayor Dennis Gillette will also attend. In addition to the wall, a mobile trailer museum will be available for viewing.
Six computers will aid in finding specific names on the wall by cross-referencing soldiers' names, hometowns or ages. The 58,219 names on the wall are listed by the date soldiers died.
A small representation of a sculpture of the old Eric Huberth Tree, named for an MIA Vietnam veteran, will be unveiled during the opening ceremonies. When the Eric Huberth Tree died, an artist was commissioned to convert it to sculpture.
The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza is located at 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. For more information on the Vietnam memorial call 496-2255.