Traveling Vietnam memorial wall comes to Sandusky

SANDUSKY The cost of freedom is etched on the panels of the Traveling Wall, which was erected this week outside the Erie Coun
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

The cost of freedom is etched on the panels of the Traveling Wall, which was erected this week outside the Erie County Courthouse.

A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., the Traveling Wall will be on display at the courthouse 24 hours a day until noon June 10.

"I enjoy peace and freedom every day because of those names," said Maryann Monroe, a volunteer coordinator at the Traveling Wall and a member of AMVETS Post 17 in Sandusky, referring to the 58,256 names of U.S. Service members who lost their lives in Vietnam, or died from injuries sustained in the war.

A teary-eyed Monroe, who served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy, said Friday she had gone sleepless overnight as a coordinator at the Wall. She sat in the grass in front of the memorial beneath a nearly full moon and cried.

"It's an honor," she said.

The exhibit is open 24 hours daily, with free admission for all.

AMVETS Post 17 in conjunction with Roeder's Harley Davidson and numerous other local businesses paid the costs to bring the American Veterans Traveling Tribute to Sandusky.

Tammi Laynue of Sandusky is one of the local volunteers who will keep vigil at the memorial throughout its stay. Laynue said her father died nine years ago of cancer related to his exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

Laynue said she has spent time talking with visitors and comforting those for whom visiting the memorial is emotionally overwhelming. On Thursday, she was a shoulder to cry on for a woman whose husband's name is on the Vietnam Wall.

"We've probably had over a thousand visitors so far," she said.

It took four hours and nearly 25 people to erect the wall Thursday morning. At 370 feet long, the replica is approximately 80 percent the size of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., the largest replica of the memorial.

By Friaday afternoon, numerous flowers, cards and other momentos had been left at the base of the black wall outside the courthouse. The tradition of leaving tokens of remembrance started in Washington when a Purple Heart medal was placed at the Vietnam Wall. Since then, more than 100,000 items have been left at the Wall and are part of a Smithsonian collection.

The items left at the Traveling Wall will be taken the Ohio Veterans Home.

Included in the Traveling Tribute is the Cost of Freedom exhibit, which includes gold replica dog tags of every U.S. Service member killed in action in conflicts that occurred since the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Volunteers work constantly to keep the memorial current, adding new names everyday.

Tonight at 8:30 p.m. there will be a candlelight vigil and a reading of the names on the Wall from Erie, Huron, Sandusky, Seneca, Ottowa, and Lorain Counties.

There will be a closing ceremony at noon on June 10th.