Emily Baucum, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Patriotism spread through the generations to honor fallen soldiers this weekend. Union Public Schools ROTC students teamed up with Vietnam veterans to assemble a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
The mobile replica is haunting in its simplicity. It portrays Vietnam War in black and white - each name with its own shade of gray for those who remember the fallen.
The traveling wall came to Tulsa in several pieces. Veterans and ROTC students painstakingly put the puzzle together.
"It's so fun to hear them tell stories and hear what they've been through because we'll complain about doing a little PT, and they've just been through it all," said Kayla Polk-Holmes, Union ROTC member.
Memories helped bridge the generations.
"I've got three high school buddies on there from 1965 from Bartlesville, Oklahoma. It's very dear to me," said Vietnam veteran Punkin Sears.
"Reminds me of my parents being refugees in the Vietnam War when they were 13, 14 years old," said Union ROTC member Adam Moua.
"One of the veterans here came and showed me the only African American to win the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War, and that just tore me up," Polk-Holmes said.
Veterans hope keeping the flames of freedom alive will create a safe haven.
"We hope that sometime during the next 10 days there's a veteran who will actually come home and feel the warmth of the fire, feel the warmth of other veterans and come home," said Roy Wells with Vietnam Veterans of America.
Visitors say the wall creates moments of quiet reflection.
"Oh my gosh. I feel just honored to be in America - to be an American. Just looking at a flag can make me tear up," Kayla Polk-Holmes said.
With the hindsight only history can provide, the veterans also pause to mark the 10 years passed since the 9/11 attacks.
"9/11 was definitely a tragedy, and this was a tragedy," said Vietnam veteran Merle Weems.
"And we have Vietnam veterans that lost their lives on 9/11, too. They came home, planned on living a full life and then they lost their lives on 9/11," Punkin Sears said.
The Vietnam Wall is located behind the Union Public Schools Sixth & Seventh Grade Center. It will be on display through Sunday, September 18th, 24 hours a day.