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Raw Chatter

I've never seen so many names in one place.

The names were of those killed or missing in action from the Vietnam War. The names were etched on a black granite wall replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Augusta last weekend.

I'd always wanted to see the replica, which displays the names of more than 58,000 American military men - all of whom I consider American heroes. They died defending America and the spread of Communism.

Gazing up at the wall, I couldn't believe my eyes. It quickly dawned on me that they weren't just names, but people who had vowed to defend our country at all costs - including sacrificing their lives if they had to do so.

These men were heroes.

And so were those who served there and made it back home.

One of those men was Clarence Ware, whom I met and interviewed for a news story while visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica last weekend.

He knows all too well what price many thousands of men paid. For he lost eight friends in the war…all killed in a war that for many years didn't seem to have an ending.

Mr. Ware still remembers how some people treated him and other soldiers when they returned from that war.

I'll never forget the words that came from his mouth.

"Many people treated us nasty when we came home," Mr. Ware said.

That lone comment was chilling to me. After all, there is nothing pleasant about the three-letter word - war.

I've always wondered why war was so necessary. I realize it is, and that anytime a country goes to war against another country, there is bound to be loss of lives.

Seeing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica is something I shall never forget.

It reminded me of an era I hope is never repeated in America.

For those who lost loved ones in the Vietnam War, my prayers are with you.

My visit to the wall lasted nearly three hours last Saturday. I wasn't in a hurry. I wanted to spend time talking with those who didn't mind sharing stories. Their time was greatly appreciated.

It also gave me a greater insight into the magnitude of the Vietnam War. Every time I looked up, their names were there to remind me - a constant reminder - until I completed the assignment.

Now that I have visited the wall, I know all too well the devastation that war can bring to several generations.

The names I saw on the wall will leave a lasting impression on me. And I'll always remember that they weren't just names, but proud men willing to do whatever they could to preserve my liberties and freedoms, as well as yours.

Web posted on Thursday, July 03, 2008

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