PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- City leaders are throwing their support behind bringing a Vietnam memorial wall here to Southwest Florida for good. Right now, the traveling 360-foot-long memorial is in Texas. The non-profit that owns it, wants to retire the wall at the end of the year.
City hall was packed today with veterans who came out to speak in favor of trying to get the wall to Punta Gorda permanently. The proposed site is in the area around the Freedom Fountain in the well-known Veterans Garden in Laishley Park. With the council unanimously supporting this effort, it's the start of what will certainly be a long, but worthwhile process.
With today's decision, the council will send a letter to the non-profit that owns the wall, letting them know the city is extremely intrested in bringing it here. The council will also ask for enough time to raise the funds for it. The non-profit is asking for $250,000. Between prepping the site for the wall, and the cost for upkeep, city leaders want to raise even more than that and they're asking the community to help.
Local veterans say bringing the wall to this location would be a step toward healing.
"The last time a traveling Vietnam veterans memorial wall was in Punta Gorda was back in 2009, and it's estimated more than 80,000 people came here to see it," said veteran, Chuck Weinberg.
Leaders are not sure how many other cities they might be competing with for the wall, but they are hopeful.