UPDATE: 09/05/2011 6:47pm
Even though it hasn't been the perfect conditions for a walk in the park, people are still enjoying a walk along the wall....rain gear included
All to pay their respects to Vietnam Veterans.
And the number of people showing up at City Park are increasing on the last day.
Veterans Labor Day in the Park Volunteer, Karen Riffle says, "it just speaks volumes for the amount of people that are here.It's grown much colder. It's rainy. Honestly, the conditions are miserable, and yet people just continue to pour out to pay their respects to the soldiers who's names appear on the Vietnam Wall and the Vietnam Soldiers themselves, their family. The support has just been absolutely incredible."
Today is the last day you can go to the traveling wall.
"John and I met in Pennelton, San Diago, California in 1967 in January," says Keith Kapple, U.M. Marine Corps Veteran. "We became very good friends. Went through prisoner of war training together. And we were just close and got to know each other very well."
Kapple recalls his friend, John W. Jones, as a very intelligent, driven young man.
"Before John went to Vietnam, on the weekend that we were about to leave, John decided he was going to go back to Freemont, California and there he was going to marry his sweetheart," Kapple continues. "Instead of going to Disneyland with me and a couple of the other guys, he married his little girl, as he called her. He came back on Sunday and left the next day for Vietnam."
Jones was asked to be the company driver but, Kapple says, after only days on the job, Jones asked to be put back on the front lines.
"While standing, just standing after a patrol, he took a direct hit. He was probably 50 yards from me at the time. That was the last time I saw John W. Jones."
Kapple says he thinks of his friend often and would like all Americans to remember one thing: after active duty, no matter how much time passes, the battle scars of the heart remain.
"You just never think like the average person thinks. Although all the scars are now healed, the scars in the heart never heal"
Volunteers were up with the sun Thursday morning, working to make sure Vietnam Vets were remembered.
Dozens of volunteers were on hand to help construct the Vietnam Memorial Wall replica in City Park starting at 7 this morning. Students from Parkersburg, Parkersburg South, Catholic, and Williamstown were on hand to help with construction. Members of the U.S. Army's 1092nd also pitched in to see the wall erected.
Art Hall, the store manager of the Vienna Home Depot, say the decision to get involved with the traveling wall was simple to make. He says, he and his large group of associates knew it was the right thing to do.
"Make no mistake, we are one country and any effort to heal and pay respect to our fallen Veterans, both new and old,is an important thing," Hall says. "And now we have the Vietnam Memorial Wall and this is a fantastic thing. But, make no mistake, all veterans are standing behind this. One country."
The wall will be open for viewing 24 hours a day.
It won't be until Thursday when the wall is actually open to be viewed. But hundreds were on hand Wednesday afternoon at Parkersburg City Park, to see a caravan which grew by the hundreds when it entered Wood County, escort the wall replica to the site where it will be open through Labor Day weekend.
And the expected spectators come from all walks, and ages, of life, like young Abby Nichols.
"My aunt's brother was killed in the Vietnam War. I haven't seen the wall yet, and I want to see the wall."
In the nearly 30 years it has been in existence, the permanent wall in Washington, D.C. has been seen by millions of people. And according to one of those in charge of the traveling wall, no two people see it the same way.
"A Vietnam veteran might look at it one way, a family member would look at it another way", says Greg Welsh, Wall Manager. "It's an emotional roller coaster for each person who comes out and sees it, but it affects each person differently."
And some, like one Vietnam veteran, have seen both the permanent and the traveling replica wall.
"I've never seen anything like that with all the names on it," says Mike Davis. "It's pretty impressive, and when I went to D.C., it was really impressive."
An opening ceremony for the wall will be held Friday afternoon at 1:30, but the wall will be open to visitors beginning at 4:00 Thursday afternoon.
It will close Tuesday morning at 8:00.