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Visitors pay respects at ‘Wall that Heals’ to loved ones, friends lost during Vietnam War

(Update: Adding video, comments from visitors, veterans)

LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) --The Wall that Heals, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is now set up in La Pine and had its first full day of the exhibition Thursday, full of the emotions one would expect at such an event, and is seen every day at the memorial in our nation's capital.

The Wall is a three-quarter-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and stands 7.5 feet tall and 375 feet long for community members to engage with.

It has the engraved names of the more than 58,000 men and women who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. 

“It is very emotional. It’s a very emotional experience,” said Mike Casciato, a Vietnam veteran.

Casciato is one of hundreds who stopped by Thursday to visit the Wall, which is calling La Pine its home until Sunday.

People from all around the state visited to share kind words and memories of those whose names are engraved in the wall.

James McNamara, an Army veteran, had a list of friends names he wanted to pay respects toward.

“They were very good people, and they died thinking they were; we were doing a mission and doing what we were supposed to. We did our best.” McNamara said.

Some visitors were visibly emotional after finding loved ones names engraved on the wall. A few visitors told NewsChannel 21 they couldn’t believe there were over 58,000 names on the wall panels.

Schoolchildren were also seen learning about the history of the Vietnam War through educational tours provided by volunteers.

Casciato said bringing the Wall to La Pine helps heal those who served in Vietnam who weren’t always treated well when they returned home.

“I remember when I came back, it wasn’t pleasant. For all those 58,000 that have died, they finally get their due,” Casciato said.

McNamara was able to locate the 25 names of Vietnam veterans he knew.

“They were one of the last Special Forces to go from Okinawa to Vietnam, and they were probably two of the last people that got killed over there,” Casciato said.

If you visit the Wall that Heals, you can first stop by a tent and speak to a volunteer who will help locate names of loved ones on the wall panels.

There is also a Mobile Education Center for the public to view through Sunday. The exhibit, at the Frontier Day grounds on Sixth Street, is open 24 hours a day.

Article Topic Follows: La Pine
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Leslie Cano

Leslie Cano is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Leslie here.

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