By Meagan Perle
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY - After almost two years of planning, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1041 in Martin County succeeded in bringing the Vietnam traveling memorial wall to Martin County for what was a very emotional four days.
Ed Maxwell, first vice president of Chapter 1041, said the replica has been in existence for about six to eight years and originated in Melbourne. This is the first time the wall made the trip to Halpatiokee Regional Park in Martin County, though.
"It's a physical monument you can look at and say 'at least their names will live forever'," Mr. Maxwell said.
From Oct. 25 through 28 Mr. Maxwell explained that any time, rain or shine, he could look out at the 300-foot-long wall and see 60 or 70 people. Even Hurricane Sandy, which brushed the area on Friday, Oct. 26, didn't deter visitors, who came from across the state, he said.
"Some of these people were coming to grips with a friend or a loved one killed in the war," Mr. Maxwell said.
"It's a healing experience for some vets, but some still can't even go to the wall because it's just too hard."
Vietnam veteran Thomas Cundy was one of this year's visitors who had never been to the wall in Washington.
"Seeing the wall you have really mixed feelings," Mr. Cundy said. "I feel like my friends shouldn't be on that wall, but I'm happy they're at least being honored for what they went through."
The wall was free to visit and was brought to Martin County because of donations collected over two years of planning by the vets themselves. There are no current plans to bring the wall back to the area.
There was an opening ceremony and entertainment from local musicians. Chapter 1041 raised funds for its organization through beverage sales, raffles and different vendors that participated at the event.
"Not everyone can go to Washington and it's important because it helps everyone realize the cost of war," Mr. Maxwell said.