Miami VA Healthcare System
Michael Savenelli Vietnam Veterans Memorial “Traveling Wall” found its home
The Miami VA Healthcare System’s Broward County VA Outpatient Clinic hosted a dedication ceremony welcoming the Michael Savenelli Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on Oct. 13 2010
The four and a half foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., traveled throughout Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, and now will be permanently located at the Broward County VA Outpatient Clinic located at 9800 West Commercial Blvd., in Sunrise, Fla. The memorial carries the history of those who lost their lives during the Vietnam Conflict.
The replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was a long time dream of Fort Lauderdale resident Veteran Michael Savenelli a recipient of five purple hearts. The ceremony was concluded with the playing of taps and an F-16 flyover.
Background on the Michael Savenelli Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall
Twenty four years ago, after an historic first reunion party of Vietnam Veterans from South Florida, one Veteran decided to build his own “Traveling Wall”. A half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. had been scheduled for the event, but it hadn’t arrived. That’s when Michael Savenelli, a U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran and recipient of Bronze and Silver Stars plus five Purple Hearts, proposed the idea to his fellow members of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc., Chapter 23.
He said, “Never again will this happen. We are going to build our own version of the Wall". And he did.
According to the VVA Chapter 23’s website, it took years of planning, building, begging, and fund raising. The result was not a replica of the original wall, nor did it resemble the half-scale walls that exist. It is a five-panel 37 foot Plexiglas-over-plywood wall with the names silk-screened in alphabetical order on a black background.
The original wall lists the 58,267 names chronologically from October 21, 1957 to May 15, 1975.
Michael’s Wall was dedicated in 1991. By that time he was in failing health due to cancer. Michael Savenelli passed away August 20th the same year.
It has been displayed throughout Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. It’s last venue, prior to coming here to its permanent home in the Broward County VA Outpatient Clinic, was the Vietnam Veterans of America’s National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida the week of August 9, 2010.
“We are honored that this wall will have its resting place at the Broward County VAOPC in memory of South Florida Veterans who lost their lives in Vietnam” said Japhet Rivera, Acting Director of the Miami VA Healthcare System.
It carries the history of those who lost their lives in our country’s defense; the dedication and respect of all the Veterans who helped Michael fulfill his promise, along with the reflected memories of every person who views it.