WEST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — As we honor the fallen this Independence Day, a mobile memorial is giving people in New Jersey a chance to honor Vietnam veterans in a way they may never have before.
Veterans and civilians alike spent the day in West Orange taking a moment to pay their respects to our country’s greatest heroes.
A father and son knelt down to read the names engraved — nearly 6,000 in total — representing those who fought, and some who died, in the Vietnam War.
“Well I wanted to expose them to it anyway, show them what it is and explain to them the significance of it and have them read about some of these men,” veteran Bud Werner told CBS2.
The travelling war memorial is personal for Werner, who brought his grandchildren to visit West Orange High School to honor the fallen.
“I know Mike Shannon, he was a guy who was stationed with me in Berlin,” he said. “And he ended up going over there about ’66.”
“It means a lot more to be here with my grandfather,” Werner’s grandson Eddie said. “It’s always emotional to see the wall, so many men and women who fought. It always brings a tear to your eye. You can’t help but stop and just feel so grateful to even be alive.”
The mobile memorial is a smaller rendition of the original Vietnam wall, who was created as a source of healing and comfort for those who may not have an opportunity to visit Washington D.C.
“I think it’s wonderful that people are honoring our fallen soldiers and to take the time to volunteer to put this kind of effort into doing this and to move it close to towns where people don’t have the opportunity to maybe get to Washington and to still see a replica of it,” visitor Robert Fochesto said.
Veteran Marc Kaplan says there’s a mutual respect.
“There’s a mutual understanding that you don’t have to, there’s no words there have to be you’ve experienced similar if not the exact horrible situations so there’s no need to talk about it. There’s an understanding.”
“A common greeting when you see a Vietnam veteran is ‘welcome home’,” he added.
A temporary home, offering lasting comfort for so many.
The traveling Vietnam wall will be at West Orange H.S. through Tuesday and is free and open to the public.
Next week, it travels to Pennsylvania and then on to Kentucky.