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Jul-25-2009 06:30TweetFollow @OregonNews
Traveling Wall and Field of Flags Mini-Documentary (VIDEO)Tim King Salem-News.com
An exhibit of 1,000 Flags, honoring all who have served, and the traveling version of the Vietnam Wall, made for a memorable event in Albany.
(ALBANY, Ore.) - A spectacular tribute to the nation's military was in Albany last week at Timber Linn Park, which already has an area dedicated in honor of American veterans.
A miniature but complete version of the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C. was constructed on the Albany park grounds and thousands made the trip to pay honor to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice while fighting in the Vietnam War.
Accompanying that tribute are panels of dog tags of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That honor extended to include all veterans, and the top phrase just might have been, "Welcome Home". It sounds good to anyone who has ever been to war.
The event is the brainchild of a WWII Navy veteran named Garner Pool, who says he complained until people listened, and eventually reconstructed the park to honor veterans, specifically from Linn County, Oregon, but also all wars.
Several hundred motorcycles escorted the Wall to the park and local residents put it all together. One of the event's organizers, Tanya Kramer, says everyone that pitched in was either a veteran, or a family member of one.
"It's a big family of really great people," she said.
A local Marine Corps recruiter, Sgt. Charles Bates, told Salem-News.com it was an honor to receive a special medal being issued to Oregon veterans, alongside people who fought in previous wars like Vietnam. Bates has served two tours in Iraq.
Saturday, July 18th, was the biggest day for the event, and it was open 24-hours a day once constructed. A fly-by Saturday afternoon passed in a missing man formation, signifying the loss of an aviator.
It is a sobering reality check, along with the bagpipes and the 21-gun salute, that leaves few eyes dry.
Former Marine Victor Kuhns who served in Vietnam, says it is the best education a child can get. He suggests they take the time to talk to the Veterans who made it home so they can really learn something.
Bill Walker and Clay Winkler, manned the booth dedicated to those who were awarded the Purple Heart in combat. Clay was a prisoner during the Vietnam War for three years. Bill served in the Korean War and in Vietnam.
It was the time men like Chet Hall were serving out careers in military groups like the U.S. Navy. His wife Marlene ended up being his support system when the memories of war in Vietnam became too much to bear.
Marlene says he used to cry alone, and today they only cry together.
As far as what it means to our active military, Jeffrey Leanord of the Oregon National Guard, says "it means everything", adding that he wishes his dad had known such support when he came home from Vietnam.
The Wall and Field of Flags and the additions to Timber Linn Park, are meaningful tributes to the people who have served this nation in uniform, especially those who gave all.
Here is the special 10-minute video:
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
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