A leap of faith brings Wall replica to Aspen | AspenTimes.com

A leap of faith brings Wall replica to Aspen

Bringing the American Veterans Traveling Tribute to Aspen later this month is something of a leap of faith for local Vietnam veteran John Hoepfer.

Staging the event, highlighted by the display of a 4/5-scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C., will cost some $30,000 to $35,000. So far, Hoepfer has about $5,000 in donations to help defray the expenses, and perhaps another $1,000 generated by the sale of commemorative buttons.

He said he has put about $4,000 of his own money into the upfront expenses to bring the Wall to Aspen’s Rio Grande Park on May 20-24, with set-up on May 20 and take-down on the 24th.

“I’m not freaking out, but you know, it’s a faith thing. It really is,” he said.

For the first time, T-shirts will be sold in conjunction with the display of the traveling memorial. They will feature a logo of Hoepfer’s own design – a golden aspen leaf etched with veterans’ names as they appear on the Wall.

The sale of 1,500 T-shirts at $20 apiece during the event will cover the expenses, he noted hopefully, though Hoepfer admitted a healthy balance of contributions ahead of time would raise his comfort level.

Still, he has received plenty of vocal support for his effort, convincing him the exhibit will attract people from around the Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado and beyond.

“Almost every phone call I receive … they’re ending the conversation by thanking me for doing this,” Hoepfer said. “There seem to be too many people who need this, families that need this, from the phone calls I’m getting.”

So, he isn’t letting the financial side of things detract from his work in nailing down the final details of an event that will feature more than simply the display of the memorial Wall.

Among the other goings-on will be appearances by David Maraniss, author of “They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967,” and Jan Scruggs, who founded the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and conceived the idea for a memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Air National Guard out of Eagle will land a couple of Huey helicopters in the parking lot at the schools campus on Saturday, May 22. Folks are invited to go out and get an up-close look at the aircraft.

An exhibit of paintings by Norm Bergsma, a veteran who came to grips with his experiences in Vietnam through his art, is planned at Rio Grande Park. Bergsma also owns the replica of the Wall that Hoepfer has arranged to bring to Aspen.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the event can make a donation to the Wall in Aspen account at any branch of Alpine Bank.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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