Instead of traveling to Washington D.C. to visit the Vietnam Memorial,
there’s a more viable option for many FARM SHOW readers. Visit the
full-size replica of the memorial in Jim Eddleman’s farm field near
Perryville, Mo. Besides the famous wall, there are flag memorials for
all branches of service, a visitor center, pavilion and a museum.
It’s all part of Missouri’s National Veterans Memorial (MMVM), a
nonprofit 501(c)(3) that started with a donation of money and 46 acres
from Eddleman based on a vow he made more than 50 years ago.
As a soldier in Vietnam he carried wounded comrades to evacuation helicopters during the TET Offensive in 1968. He promised that if he lived through the war he would do something to honor his comrades. Back home on his family’s 3-generation farm, he worked hard and invested wisely, delivering on the promise by completing the Vietnam wall in 2018.
“The black granite came from the same quarry as the Washington D.C.
memorial. It’s oriented the same way with the sun. The only differences
are in D.C. you walk down into it, and we etched our walls instead of
engraving them,” says Nancy Guth, executive director of MNVM. If names
were misspelled on the D.C. wall, they are spelled the same way on the
MMVM wall. Contractors and volunteers worked with Jim Knotts, president
and CEO of D.C.’s Vietnam Memorial to get the details right.
Eddleman and his wife, Charlene, can see the memorial from their
home. Eddleman visits the memorial often, during the day and at night,
when lights shining on the wall create a special ambiance.
“It’s so peaceful and quiet. I can sit and reflect and remember and hopefully get some healing,” he says.
“When I made the promise, I had no idea what it would be,” he adds. “This turned out way, way more than I expected.”
When he decided replicating the wall would be the best way to honor soldiers, he shared the idea and immediately five people were interested in making a full-size version. He praises the many volunteers and board members who made the memorial possible.
Dedicated in May 2019, it’s become a popular destination for individual and group trips. Schools set up field trips and a retired volunteer teacher helps students connect with names of soldiers from their hometown. Boy and Girl Scouts and others volunteer clean the 144 panels of the wall, sweep the sidewalks, and mow the grass.
“We are in control, not the government, and veterans are
appreciative of that,” Guth says. Visitors can look at the wall anytime
and visit the center during regular hours.
NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Smith promotes the wall and MNVM, which is privately funded. There is no entrance fee, but a donation of $10 is suggested to sustain the memorial and for planned projects. Donations are also accepted for pavers and benches.
Located just a few miles off Interstate 55, the memorial opens up an
opportunity for people to visit who would never take the trip to the
East Coast, Guth notes.
She adds that besides MNVM, Perryville has the St. Mary of the Barrens National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and the American Tractor Museum.
“It’s not noisy like it is in Washington, D.C.,” Eddleman says. “You can sit here and be in peace.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Missouri’s National Veterans Memorial,
1172 Veterans Memorial Pkwy., Perryville, Mo. 63775 (ph 573 547-2035;