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Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will come to El Campo

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
July 6, 2012 at 2:06 a.m.

Tony and Marilyn DeMilio, of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., look at the names on the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall at Rotary Park in Orange City, Fla., in 2007. "We were out riding and saw the sign," Tony DeMilio said. "I had a lot of friends over there." A veterans' group based in Michigan and another in Florida have   built replicas of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Tony and Marilyn DeMilio, of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., look at the names on the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall at Rotary Park in Orange City, Fla., in 2007. "We were out riding and saw the sign," Tony DeMilio said. "I had a lot of friends over there." A veterans' group based in Michigan and another in Florida have built replicas of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

EL CAMPO - The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will be in El Campo on July 11-15 and will be open to the public each day until 9 p.m.

This traveling version of the nation's Vietnam War Memorial is 300 feet wide, or three-fifths the size of "The Wall" in Washington, D.C. But the replica black granite panels are still etched with names of the 58,272 American men and women who lost their lives in Southeast Asia.

"We're proud and honored to have this," said county organizer Sarah Hudgins of Hungerford. "It's long overdue."

She added that the post-Fourth of July display is more than just that, it's an event.

On Tuesday, a motorcycle and law enforcement escort will meet the vehicles carrying the exhibit in Rosenberg.

The motorcade will go to East Bernard, Hungerford and Wharton before traveling to a site prepared especially for The Wall across from the El Campo Aquatic Center on 2613 Blossom Meyer.

"We're calling it the parade they never had," said Hutchins.

Members of the community had to expedite their efforts to prepare for The Wall because a more immediate opening became available.

Their original time slot was scheduled for 2013. Volunteers have spent five months preparing the site, and to some it's sacred.

"This site has become hallowed ground," said Chris Barbe, El Campo community services director.

The memorial will open to the public on Wednesday from 4 to 9 p.m., and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Organizers will hold a memorial service at 9 a.m. Saturday. Special guests will include the families of the 22 soldiers killed in Vietnam from Wharton County.

A candlelight ceremony will be held at 9 p.m. Sunday to close the exhibit, which travels to Mobile, Ala., the following day.

There is no charge to visit The Wall, but donations will go to Wharton American Legion, VFW veterans' relief funds, and to Patriots and Heroes Outdoors.

Special events will be held each day to honor the men and women who served in Vietnam, as well as other times of armed conflicts involving the U.S. military, including World War II, Korea, Desert Storm and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Barbee is thrilled with the progress the community has made to make the site a reality, "It's been amazing what we've been able to do."

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