Oklahomans Honor Vets at Traveling Memorial
By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9
PIEDMONT, Oklahoma -- A traveling war memorial has given Oklahomans the chance to honor and remember those who died for our freedom in a special way this Fourth of July weekend.
The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall is displayed in Piedmont for the weekend. For many of those who've visited the memorial, they've said it's been an emotional trip.
On its walls are 58,000 names of servicemen and woman who died or are missing in Vietnam. Many Oklahomans have taken rubbings of loved ones names and said being at the wall brings back memories of their own service.
"Pretty special. My brother served there in '68 during the Tet (Offensive). Recipient of 2 purple hearts. Hols was there in the Marine Corps. Recipient of a purple heart," said United States Army Sergeant Malen L. Skip Cooley.
The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall was built to honor all those who made the ultimate sacrifice at different sites across the country. It's a three quarter scale traveling replica of the Washington, D.C. Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It stands eight feet high and 240 feet long.
"This is reality. This is not a movie, a John Wayne movie. Those people have ammunition, bullets. And they're pretty good shots," said Vietnam Veteran Ron Siemens.
Many Oklahomans have used the memorial for refection and healing. Some have thought about the next generation of soldiers fighting to protect freedom around the world.
"I've got a son right now, Staff Sgt. Shane Cooley, Staff Sgt. United States Marine Corps. Been to Iraq once. He'll soon be an officer. He's a senior at the University of Oklahoma right now," Cooley said.
The memorial is on display 24 hours a day through Sunday at Stout Field on the Piedmont High School Campus.