Tupelo starts construction on Vietnam Wall replica

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A groundbreaking ceremony in Tupelo on Monday marked the beginning of construction on a smaller version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Daily Journal reported.

“We’ll actually start turning dirt this week,” Tupelo Parks & Recreation Department director Alex Farned told the Daily Journal. “We hope to have everything complete by this fall so we can have a ribbon-cutting on Veterans Day in November.”

The simple, black granite “V” will be 60 percent of the size of the official monument in Washington, D.C., the newspaper reported.

“It will be a little over 6 feet tall at the center,” landscape architect Shipman Sloan said to the Daily Journal. “The one in Washington is completely below ground. We will build a berm behind the walls so they are only partially underground.”

The newspaper said the idea for the Vietnam Wall replica first came up more than 15 years ago when a traveling replica visited Itawamba Community College in Fulton in 2001. After collecting about $250,000 in donations and pledges, the Vietnam Replica Wall Committee approached the city of Tupelo with the idea of placing the replica in Veterans Memorial Park.

The city donated around $150,000 for the land, parking lot and in-kind services. But with the total project costing well over $1 million, state funding was needed. After years of discussions, the state of Mississippi earmarked $750,000 in bond money for the project, the Daily Journal said.