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Moving tribute reflects on America's heroes

By Cpl. Joshua Bozeman | | October 17, 2002

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It took Navy Seabees and volunteers just two days to construct, but it made a lifelong impression on local Georgians.

The Moving Wall was on display at Fort Benning, Ga., Friday through Sunday. Its presence gave those who may never get to Washington a chance to pay tribute to the Americans who served in the Vietnam War.

The wall is half the size of the original and has been touring the country for almost 20 years. It has traveled from coast to coast, sharing the experience with thousands who would have never seen the memorial otherwise.

The Moving Wall was created by veterans who wanted to share their positive experience of actually seeing the original.

Vietnam veterans sat alongside people representing several generations of grateful Americans during the opening ceremony Friday.

The wall was set up across from the Infantry Museum with several other monuments surrounding it, which helped create an air of reverence.

The ceremony included patriotic musical numbers -- singing, playing instruments, and even a bit of dancing -- from various grade schools in the area as well as speeches from local officials and veterans.

Once the walkway to the wall was opened, volunteers helped visitors seeking specific names. Positioned at computers, the volunteers were able to help spectators quickly and efficiently. They also provided pencils and paper to visitors who wanted to trace on the wall.

"It was a really great experience," said Frank Hart, a Vietnam veteran who now resides in Columbus, Ga. Hart said he was excited from the moment he heard the wall was going to visit the community.

"I don't think I'll ever get to go to the wall in D.C., so it was very important to me that I made it to see the wall here," said the elderly vet.

Cassie Rivers, whose brother died in the war, was also very grateful the wall came to Columbus.

"Having the wall visit helps to remind us of the sacrifices that these men made for our country," said Rivers. "It really hits home when you see how many names are on it."

"I was also glad that my son had the opportunity to see the wall," she added.

Texas is the Moving Wall's next scheduled stop. For more information on the wall, visit www.themovingwall.org/.

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