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A moving memorial to American heroes visits Clearwater

Volunteers help move panels of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall while assembling the display Thursday at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater. The Clearwater Veterans Alliance invited the wall and the Some Gave All Traveling Tribute to be on display for Veterans Appreciation Day on Saturday.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Volunteers help move panels of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall while assembling the display Thursday at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater. The Clearwater Veterans Alliance invited the wall and the Some Gave All Traveling Tribute to be on display for Veterans Appreciation Day on Saturday.

CLEARWATER — In the haze of the Philadelphia Phillies' World Series victory, a different type of memorial was being erected Thursday at the team's spring training facility, the Carpenter Complex.

As a blanket of dew still lay on the grass, veterans parked trailers in leftfield of one of the auxiliary fields and quietly unloaded a pair of memorials far removed from the innocence of baseball.

Vietnam veteran Bill Cox, 60, who served in the Army's 11th Armored Cavalry in the Vietnam War and was wounded in Cambodia in 1968, was among the volunteers who traveled to Clearwater to erect the two memorials, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall and the Some Gave All Traveling Tribute, a 20-panel memorial displaying the names of those who have lost their lives in the U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the Sept. 11 attacks.

"This is for the families and the loved ones of those who have died in Iraq," Cox said. "We got ours, but they got nothing, and I'm not making them wait like we did."

It was with this impetus and the spirit of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall that Cox and other veterans created the memorial for the Iraqi vets and their families.

Army veteran Joseph Corell, 80, of Safety Harbor paused for a moment near a rifle, helmet and boots neatly stacked near the panels carved with 3,800 names of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Seeing this makes me sort of sad, somewhat depressed, knowing it's a war we cannot win," he said.

As the volunteers hustled flowers and flags into place, maintenance workers and groundskeepers, including Tom Kutch of Largo, paused to take in the scene. Kutch, who found the names of two friends who died in the World Trade Center, was moved to tears.

"It's important to remember these people," Kutch said.

It took volunteers the morning and most of the afternoon to erect the Tribute and the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, a 3/5-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C., which displays the more than 58,000 names of those killed or missing in action.

The memorials' display will be the centerpiece for the Clearwater Veterans Alliance's fourth annual Clearwater Veterans Appreciation Day event in Saturday at the adjacent Bright House Networks Field.

Marine Corps sharpshooter and Vietnam veteran Ed Moehler of Palm Bay sees the process of seeing the memorials as a way of cleansing the emotions of the tragedies they represent.

"If this effort and all this work serves to bring one family closure," he said, "then it is all worth it."

>>If you go

The memorials

What: The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall and the Some Gave All Traveling Tribute.

When: On display 24 hours a day through Monday.

Where: The Carpenter Complex, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater.

The event

What: The Clearwater Veterans Alliance fourth annual Clearwater Veterans Appreciation Day event. Festivities will include an honor guard line of march, military vehicles and equipment, a fly-over, speakers and children's games and activities.

When: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Gates will open at noon.

Where: Bright House Networks Field.

. If you go

The memorials

What: The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall and the Some Gave All Traveling Tribute.

When: On display 24 hours a day through Monday .

Where: The Carpenter Complex, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater.

The event

What: The Clearwater Veterans Alliance's fourth annual Clearwater Veterans Appreciation Day event. Festivities will include an honor guard line of march, military vehicles and equipment, a fly over, speakers and children's games and activities.

When: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Gates will open at noon.

Where: Bright House Networks Field.

A moving memorial to American heroes visits Clearwater 10/30/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 2, 2008 7:13pm]
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