‘It’s going to be like hallowed ground’

By on November 1, 2023

Stirring memories and emotions, The Wall That Heals comes to Dare County

When Marsha Brown took her husband Billy to Washington, D.C. in 2010 to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial—a massive wall with the names of the more than 58,000 U.S. servicemen and women who lost their lives during the Vietnam War—he was hesitant as they walked up. A Vietnam war Veteran himself, they had talked about seeing it for years, but he was nervous about the emotions it might bring up. As he inched closer, and began reading the names on the wall, she saw him begin to cry.

“He got really teared up, and I thought it was because he found someone that had passed on the wall,” recalled Marsha. But she quickly realized it was a name missing from the wall that made him emotional. There was a colonel who Billy was close to that he thought had been killed. After more than 40 years, he realized at that wall that the colonel had survived. She could see that it was a healing moment for him.

“And so the experience was so special that I just thought, ‘Gosh, I wish everybody in the county, everybody on the Outer Banks could see this, because so many people don’t get a chance to go to D.C.,” said Marsha Brown. There are five Dare County Vietnam Veterans who names adorn the wall.

Now, more than a decade later, and seven years after her husband passed away from the effects of Agent Orange, Brown is getting her wish. The Wall That Heals—a traveling, three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., which tours the country—will be on display in Dare County from Nov. 16 through Nov. 19 at the Soundside Event Site in Nags Head.

This free exhibit is hosted by the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council. Led by Patty O’Sullivan, Dare Veterans Services Officer, council members have worked together for the past year going through the competitive application process, raising thousands of dollars, setting up informational tables at events and recruiting volunteers to bring the official replica of the Memorial and its accompanying mobile education center to Dare County. The council members have spent much of the last year at those informational tables to get the word out and educate people on the Wall that Heals.

“We went to Dowdy Park, we went down to Hatteras, we were everywhere. Wherever they had the markets, we would have a booth, so that people would know about the Wall and to try to get the word out…It was a lot of work,” said O’Sullivan. “And then people started coming up to our tables saying that they can’t wait for it to come, and we were like, ‘ok this is working.’ That was a great feeling.”

The traveling exhibit spans 375 feet in length and rises to seven and one-half feet tall at its apex. The Wall’s 140 panels are transported in a tractor trailer which will make its entrance to the Outer Banks in a grand procession on Nov. 14, escorted behind a group of around 200 motorcyclists from the region and followed by 40 Jeeps who signed up to be there. The Dare County Veterans Advisory Council now has 200 volunteers signed up. Home Depot is sending a crew to set up the wall. Veterans and volunteers are calling from other cities to see how they can help.

“The community really came together,” said O’Sullivan.

The opening ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Nov. 16 and will feature a performance by the US Marine quintet, the pledge of allegiance, the national anthem, a gun salute, and speeches by various Veterans and local citizens who have contributed to the event, including a Vietnam Veteran, a rear admiral from the Coast Guard and Dare County Commissioner Chairman Bob Woodard, who is also a Vietnam veteran.

Charlie Beasley, a local Vietnam veteran, crabber, and author of the book ‘The Vietnam War: Lesson of a Lifetime,’ available at Downtown Books in Manteo, will be at the opening ceremony wearing the uniform he wore the day he left Vietnam. He feels like luck played a large role in why his name isn’t on that wall.

“It’s definitely going to bring back memories because a couple of my closest friends will be on there,” says Beasley, adding that ceremonies like this represent a shift in how Veterans of that war are now thought about and honored.

“When we came out of Vietnam back then, with the atmosphere in this country, we did not want to talk about being Vietnam Veterans. I didn’t have this problem in a local place where everybody knew me, but in big cities and stuff, there was a lot of scorn on Vietnam Veterans, because this war was so unpopular, and for good reason, too,” says Beasley, explaining that the atmosphere is much different now, with people thanking him for his service. “They have nothing but good things to say now, most everybody does, so the total atmosphere of patriotism is going to be important.”

When you talk to these Veterans, you can hear how raw the experience still is for them, as if it happened yesterday. Anthony Imperiale, Co-chair of the Veterans Advisory Council who served in Vietnam, is somewhat apprehensive about what the Wall might stir up for him.

“The problem with me is that every time you think of the war, it’s upsetting, you know?” said Imperiale. “And every time something happens out there, a conflict with other Americans, I always think about who’s gonna die and who’s going to get hurt. It’s something that you think about…it’s something that never goes away…I’m expected to be there, and I’ll be there. But I’m not quite sure how to handle it yet.”

Barry “Fuzzy” Holt, another local Vietnam Veteran and Veterans Advisory Council member, had similar feelings when he went to see the mobile Wall that Heals in Wilmington, North Carolina and the original memorial in Washington, D.C. He said during his first experience in Wilmington, he couldn’t bring himself to go up to the Wall, and instead hung back with some special forces there from Fort Bragg until he had the wherewithal to do a quick walk by. The next time, in D.C., he was able to take his time looking at the names, finding comfort in fellow Veterans that were there.

“There’s a brotherhood there that you would probably not understand, nor would anybody understand that wasn’t there,” Holt recounted. “Because at the time, we only had each other to rely on. So there’s that bond of brotherhood. So I was able to see a group of those guys. We related, we hugged, we cried.”

According to O’Sullivan there are more than 4,000 Veterans in Dare County although she can’t say how many of them are Vietnam Veterans.

When asked what advice he would have for a Veteran who might be nervous to face the Wall, Holt says to come find him. He’s found that the wall really is there to help Veterans heal.

“Lean on me, brother. We’ll get it done together. You’re not in this alone. Lean on me and I will lean on you, and we will get through it together,” he declared.

Holt will be giving tours telling the story of five Dare County Veterans whose names are on the wall, as well as the stories of a number of women who lost their lives in the war. His tours are part of a number of events that the public can sign up for online.

Marsha Brown says the most important thing is for the community to show up and show up big to support these Veterans, explaining there will be drones flying over the procession to document the crowds.

“I hope that we have every single person that can physically get out there and wave a flag or just clap when it goes by because it’s so precious, and we may never, never have it come to Dare County again,” said Brown, noting how many communities across the country apply each year. “We were selected, and we hoped and hoped and prayed about it, you know…It’s going to be like hallowed ground. No trinkets, no souvenirs and pens. It’s to celebrate the men and women that lost their lives and to honor them. And to the ones who survived.”

Event Schedule

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

  • The Wall That Heals arrives in Dare County.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

  • Set up with soft opening at completion.
  • First volunteer shift begins at 2 p.m.
  • Volunteer training begins at 6 p.m.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

  • Official opening day
  • Opening Ceremony begins at 10 a.m.
  • The Wall That Heals is open to the public 24 hours per day.

Friday, November 17, 2023

  • The Wall That Heals is open to the public 24 hours per day.
  • Candlelight Ceremony begins at 6 p.m.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

  • The Wall That Heals is open to the public 24 hours per day.
  • Vietnam Veterans Walk to the Wall at 11 a.m.
    All Vietnam Veterans are invited to walk together from the Mobile Education Center to the Wall. This walk will be led by Vietnam Veteran Barry “Fuzzy” Holt. Please arrive at least five minutes early.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

  • The Wall That Heals is open to the public until 2 p.m.
  • Closing Ceremony at 1:45 p.m.
  • Volunteers begin wall breakdown at 2 p.m.

Dare County to Provide Free Hatteras Island Shuttle Service to The Wall That Heals

For more information, log on to



Barnhill Contracting Company will receive sealed proposals for Manns Harbor – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-8), Kitty Hawk – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-9), Manteo – Youth Center on January 09, 2024. Times to be given on via addendum #01. See the following SCOPE OF WORK: BP 100 – General Trades, BP 105 – Final Cleaning, BP 205 – Demolition, BP 390 – Turnkey Concrete, BP 400 – Turnkey Masonry, BP 500 – Turnkey Structural Steel & Misc. Steel, BP 505 – Light Gauge Metal Trusses, BP 740 – Roofing, BP750 – Siding, BP 790 – Caulking/Sealants, BP 800 – Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware/Toilet Specialties/Accessories/Division 10, BP 840 – Curtainwall/Storefront/Glass/Glazing, BP 925 – Drywall/Framing, BP 960 – Resilient Flooring/Carpet/Base/Epoxy, BP 980 – Acoustical Ceilings, BP 990 – Painting and Wall Coverings, BP 1230 – Finish Carpentry and Casework, BP 1250 – Window Treatments, BP 2100 – Fire Protection, BP 2200 – Plumbing, BP 2300 – HVAC, BP 2600 – Electrical, BP 3100 – Earthwork/Turnkey Site, BP 3213- Site Concrete, BP 3290 – Landscaping. Scopes of work may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager.

Bid Location and Time: Bid opening will be held in the Barnhill Contracting Rocky Mount Training & GPS Technology Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Time is as follows: January 09, 2024 at 10:00am and 2:00pm. Times per packages to be given on via addendum #01.

Barnhill Contracting Company will receive, open, and read publicly all bids received in person in the Training & GPS Technology Room at the main office and listed with the virtual viewing at the link to be posted on Barnhill’s Plan Room.

Bids will not be accepted from bidders that are not pre-qualified. No facsimile or email submissions are permitted. Sealed bids are to be hand delivered to the bid opening location noted above or mailed Sealed Bids can be delivered before 9:00am the day of the bid to the Barnhill Contracting Company Office at 800 Tiffany Blvd., Suite 200 Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Attention “Clint Hardison.”

The pre-bid meeting will be held in Person & Zoom Meeting on December 06, 2023 at 10:00 am at the Barnhill Contracting’s Rocky Mount Main Conference Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804.

The pre-bid meeting link can be located on Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( and below. A preferred brand alternates meeting will be held via the same link at the end of the Prebid meeting.

Bid Documents can be viewed or downloaded through Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( after 12/04/2023.

All Bidders are strongly encouraged to include opportunities for HUB participation wherever possible in their respective Bid submission.  HUB participation is a part of this contract and must comply with all requirements set forth in the Bid Documents.

The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to add pre-qualified bidders. The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to reject any and all bids. Should you require additional direction, please call Barnhill Contracting Company, (Clint Hardison – 252-802-0740).

Clint Hardison is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Dare EMS – Phase 2 Pre-Bid Conference

Time: Dec 6, 2023 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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See what people are saying:

  • Travis

    The Wall in DC is a sobering experience. Seeing individual names has a far greater impact than just reading “58,000 killed”. Each name was a person. Each person had a life. Each life just as rich and complex and meaningful as your own.

    It’s hard to fathom what that loss is like.

    I was at a professional baseball game with my dad one day. The stadium capacity was right at 57,000, a number we were discussing at first because you could have fit every person in my hometown in that stadium. And out of the blue Dad said, “Imagine everyone here dead. That was the cost of Vietnam.”

    I doubt they’ll every do it, but I always thought it would be a nice tribute to put fallen soldiers’ names on the seats at stadiums. Help people remember that their leisurely afternoon was paid for with more than just dollars.

    Friday, Nov 3 @ 10:48 am