Vietnam vets lay wreaths for their war friends - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Vietnam vets lay wreaths for their war friends

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May 4, 2006

Albany-- Vietnam war veterans paid respect to their brothers and sisters who lost their lives years ago.

A moving Vietnam War Memorial wall will sit in Downtown Albany for the rest of the week. The wall brings back vivid memories for vets and serves as a history lesson for the young.

In downtown Albany, the red, white, and blue symbol of the United States waves in front of something that honors those who fought for it years ago.

"There's a lot of us that made it and a lot of us that went on the wall," says war veteran Ed Daigle.

It's a wall that's pretty simple, black background with white names, but when those names come in focus, it brings back strong, vivid Vietnam memories for Daigle. "I'm getting I don't know if you call them flashbacks or what the heck they call them. I think about it more and more," says Daigle.

There are more than 58,000 names on the wall and out of the thousands, Daigle finds a few friends.

"This is another friend of mine that got shot down over in 'Nam," says Daigle, "he got shot down by a missile over Tiger Island." But his friends and the others aren't forgotten. They're being honored with wreaths by other Vietnam war vets at the wall.

"It means that somebody does remember them," says Vietnam vet Pat Walsh, "we can't forget the veterans."

For those who never forget, the wreath laying brings them just that much closer. Lugenia Franklin's father Clarence Eugene Franklin, Sr. fought in the war.

"Experiencing this, it brought back a lot of memories of my father and the close bond we had because he was a good man," says Franklin. For the young ones who are learning, the wall brings new clarity.

"We need to have an understanding of what happened before to really goes on with the war and what causes it," says 15-year-old Nate Williams.

"I thank my lucky star today, I made it back," says Daigle.

A single chair serves as a reminder of the prisoners of war and those missing in action who didnt make it back and the wall helps to give healing to those here still waiting.

"It still gets me," says Daigle. Although years have passed since Vietnam, it feels like yesterday for him and he still remembers his friends.

Daigle says, "I pray for them everyday."

The Moving Wall is a half-size replica of the Washington, DC Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It will be on display 24 hours a day until Sunday at 6 p.m. directly across from the Hilton Garden Inn. There will be two more memorial ceremonies, one Friday and another at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

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