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thedrifter
08-05-07, 07:39 AM
Last Updated: 6:12 am | Saturday, August 4, 2007
Wall leaves trail of tears
Traveling replica of Vietnam War memorial stops in Franklin park
BY MICHAEL D. CLARK | MCLARK@ENQUIRER.COM

FRANKLIN - As he read his dead brother's name, Kenny Day's glistening tears quickly became part of his mirrored reflection in the dark surface of the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

His older brother, Keith, was a 21-year-old U.S. Army soldier killed in a 1969 rocket attack. When Kenny saw Keith's name Friday among the 58,453 names on the 370-foot-long replica wall, the Miamisburg, Ohio, man was visibly shaken.

Then Kenny - himself an Army veteran - gathered his composure and reflected on what he hopes the memorial will teach younger generations about the Vietnam War.

"I hope they learn that there are - and hopefully always will be - people who are willing to give their lives for our way of life," Day said.

Organizers predict that more than 50,000 visitors, many with memories as powerful as Day's, will travel from all over the Midwest to visit the dramatic war memorial during its stop in Franklin, a city in northern Warren County just off Interstate 75.

This is the only planned exhibition of the wall currently scheduled in Ohio through 2009, and one of more than two dozen stops nationwide this year. The wall will be displayed until 8 a.m. Monday.

Marine veteran Bob Gansheimer of Miamisburg served three tours of duty in Vietnam. He said he wished he didn't recognize so many names of his fallen comrades.

The 69-year-old clasped his Marine name tags around his neck and said: "I've had some buddies that didn't come back home. I was one of the lucky ones."

Standing beneath a 60-by-40-foot American flag unfurled from a three-story-high crane, Gansheimer said "the price of freedom can be seen on this wall."

Emotions always follow the traveling memorial, which is composed of faux granite and is about 80 percent the size of the one in Washington, D.C. Moving the wall takes a lot of work, but families deeply appreciate seeing it, said Robert Huston, an exhibition staffer and Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam.

Chris Lawson of Carlisle has no direct family connection to the Vietnam War. But she brought her four children - ages 3 through 12 - because "it's something that needs to be appreciated by everyone because it really puts things in perspective.

"They did this all so tastefully and it's really fantastic," she said.

Ellie