Vietnam Wall draws a big crowd

Vietnam Wall draws a big crowd
Paula Roberson
Paula Roberson

ASHBURN, GA (WALB) - Hundreds of people were in Ashburn Friday for the opening ceremony of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. It was somber as the names of South Georgians who died in combat are read.

Veterans from all over South Georgia were in Ashburn to see the Wall.

It was very special to a mom whose son was killed in action more than 40 years ago. Paula Roberson of Cordele came to the ceremony to see the wall and remember her son.

Roberson says her son Ernest Staines was just 19 when he died in Vietnam. "It was terrible, my son left when he was 17, he had already been to Germany and all that and back home for about a month and then he had to go to Vietnam, and he was there from January till June."

It's a healing process that still brings tears to Roberson's eyes. "It helps some but then it brings back all these other memories and it tears you up inside for a little while you know."

She's a "Gold Star" mom, and always wears her pin, given to moms whose children have died in war.

The Atlanta pipe band performed several songs, including Amazing Grace.

Capt. Johnny Clack, who served in the U.S. Army and is a triple amputee, was the guest speaker. Clack who travels all over the country speaking and helping other veterans.

Many were inspired by his story. "I think so, I felt like if he could do that then we could do a lot more."

The American Legion, Post 100 from Ocilla was in Ashburn to see the wall, which they say is an important tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

"We should honor all Veterans I think because Like Mr. Clack says freedom is not free, and someone will have to pay for what we are doing now," said Pierce Nelson.

There are more than 58,000 names displayed on the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will be on display in Ashburn throughout the weekend.

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