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."