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Traveling Vietnam Memorial Stops in Decatur
58,242 names each inscribed on a traveling "Wall That Heals." As the wall makes a stop in Decatur people are reconnecting with friends and loved ones who fought and died in the Vietnam War.
"The whole purpose of this wall is so people who cannot get to D.C. to see the real Vietnam Memorial have a chance to see exactly how immense the sacrifice of American men and women was," volunteer Larry Stimeling said.
40 years later Stimeling still finds it difficult to gaze at this type of finality.
"We shared everything. He gave up a paper route, I took it over, he gave up a girlfriend, I took her over. Mike and I were close," Stimeling said.
So close that Stimeling now wears a shirt that bears his friend's name.
"When I think about him I see the fond memories that we had and wish we could have continued them after we both got back from Vietnam," Stimeling said.
Students from St. Patrick School in Decatur are much too young to remember the war but some have family who lost their lives because of it. The students are out looking at the wall as an assignment. It is one that touches them.
"We want something interesting and relevant and yet perhaps not necessarily text book kind of information so I thought this would be a great opportunity," St. Patrick School teacher Mitzy Johnson said.
A great opportunity also for Marguerite Jackson. Jackson is here to remember her childhood neighbor, she just has to find his name.
After looking it up in the book we take her to the real thing.
"It's wonderful, yeah. It's,--" Johnson trails off. Her feelings too difficult to put into words.
A remembrance ceremony will be held in the Decatur Public Library parking lot at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The wall will stand in that spot until the end of the day on Sunday. It will then be packed up and taken to its next destination, New York.