Veterans Escort Vietnam Memorial From Tulsa To Norman
By Dan Bewley and NewsOn6.com
Riders began lining up at TU's Chapman Commons at 8 a.m., preparing to head west down the historic route to arrive at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman at about 1:30 p.m. for a hand-off ceremony between the riders and city officials.
The Wall, which honors the more than 58,000 American men and women who gave their lives in defense of their country, is a replica of the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C. It was transported in a tractor-trailer rig clearly identifiable to those it passes on America's roadways.
The replica is three-quarters the size of the original in Washington D.C. Every name that's on the wall in Washington is on the wall that traveled through the heartland.
"It's just an unexplained affect that it has on people, especially if you know somebody whose name is on that wall," said Retired Brigadier General Pete Costilow, Vietnam veteran.
Costilow knows several names on the wall. He's proud to have helped lead the effort to bring the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall to Oklahoma.
"There are people who still carry scars from Vietnam and this, hopefully, will be a healing moment for them," said Costilow.
For the men and women who took part in Saturday's ride, they say the wall inside the truck means just as much to them as the one in D.C. and they hope today's generation can learn from their history.
"My hope and desire is that they don't treat our new veterans coming back from war like they did us," said James Baughn, a Vietnam veteran.
The rally went through the towns of Sapulpa, Kellyville, Bristow, Depew, Stroud, Davenport, Chandler, Shawnee and Pink. Oklahomans were encouraged to be on hand in those cities to mark its passing.
The opening ceremony for the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall will be held June 30 in Norman's Reaves Park. Admission will be free through July 5.
Operation Oklahoma will hold ceremonies in several locations over 4th of July weekend - in Tulsa, Bricktown and Norman.
The year 2010 has been proclaimed the Year of the Vietnam Veteran by Governor Brad Henry.