SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) This week only, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is in Spartanburg. It was escorted today throughout the county all the way to its final destination, the downtown memorial airport.
“It’s to honor them and in our own way, welcome them home,” said Rich Goerner, who served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1973.
The Wall That Heals bears the names of over 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam, with 186 being from the Upstate.
To pay their respects, people lined the streets of Spartanburg as the wall, guided by its motorcade of veterans, made its way to the downtown memorial airport. Veterans a part of the motorcade call the wall a remembrance tool.
“If we don’t teach our children our history, we’re going to repeat it again and I’m not the first one to say that,” said Shelly Holcomb, who served as a major in the nurse corps in Vietnam from 1969 to 1989. “They need to remember what happened in Vietnam, what happened in World War II and I and Korea, they need to know that they are free today because of these men and women that served.”
The “Palmetto Patriots Home” being the starting point allowed veterans like Dennis Jones, who has two purple hearts for his service, to be involved.
“A celebration I should say like this, is the greatest thing any veteran could have and I just want to thank everybody who is out here who could be a part of this ceremony especially the bikers it makes me feel so good in my heart,” said Jones, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1963 to 1974.
Aside from the veterans, a few community residents also took part in the motorcade, saying they feel honored to be alongside those who served.
“I did not serve, it’s one of my regrets so my payback to the veterans is to do this,” said Dick Jordan, a Boiling Springs resident.
With the way so many veterans said they’ve been impacted by the Wall That Heals, it shows the name rings true.
“The memorial also helps to heal some of what we did when we came home,” said Goerner.
“We got a whole generation of Vietnam vets that didn’t get the homecoming they deserve, so we want to make sure we honor them,” said Joe Moore, who served from 1980 to 1995.
“It’s a good way to bring us all together no matter what we’ve done, no matter where we’ve been no matter what our experiences are,” said Stan Bagwell, who served from 1982 to 1997.
The wall will be at the Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport all week for anyone to come by and pay their respects.