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Memories live at Vietnam wall

The Tribute Wall of Names, a half-size replica of the one in Washington, D.C., continues today and Monday.

[Times photo: Brian Tietz]
Jim Andrinie and Elijah Schneider, front, visit the Moving Wall on a damp Saturday morning to pay tribute to the fallen servicemen and women.

By JORGE SANCHEZ

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 18, 2001


CRYSTAL RIVER -- Memories of the Vietnam War were recalled at the Moving Wall or Tribute Wall of Names, which continued its four-day stay at Rock Crusher Canyon on Saturday.

photo
[Times photo: Steve Hasel]
Jerry Childress, a member of the Honor Guard for VFW Post 4337, stands at attention during the Friday viewing of the wall.
Under gloomy skies that seemed to reflect the somber mood, hundreds of people walked the length of the wall, which is a half-size model of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Saturday's ceremonies included a wreath-laying, songs by a choir and speeches.

As is the custom at the real memorial, many people used paper and pencil to make a "rubbing," or etched impression, of some of the approximately 58,200 names engraved on the wall. Others left tributes such as flowers and cards, and in one case an empty bottle of champagne, two glasses and a flak jacket.

Among the visitors were Shirley Ishbaugh, who came from Sanford. "It stops and makes you think of how much of our country we wasted," she said.

Another visitor to the wall was Vietnam veteran Robert Ewing of Beverly Hills, who saw the wall with his wife, Sandy. Ewing said he served in the war in 1963-64 and returned in the summer of 1968. The visit left him emotionally shaken.

"It brings back a lot of memories. But as I always tell people, unless you were there there's just no way to describe what it was really like," he said. "But it does bring closure to a lot of feelings, because I've never seen the real memorial."

Among the speakers Saturday was Curt Ebitz of Sugarmill Woods, a retired Army colonel who as a young officer served as a platoon leader and company commander in Vietnam.

Ebitz said he agreed with President Reagan's assessment that the war was a "noble cause," but acknowledged that it divided the country. He said the wall helped heal the division.

"I know a lot of names on that wall," Ebitz said.

Area schools sent busloads of students on Friday to see the wall and meet with veterans. Among the visitors was Bill Hartley, a teacher at Lecanto High, whose father, William Hartley, was killed in combat in Vietnam. Hartley said he was about 8 years old when the family received the news about the tragedy.

Among the veterans organizations participating by standing watch or presenting the colors were American Legion Post 155; Citrus County Seabees; the Marine Corps League; Retired Officers Association; and VFW posts 4252, 4227 and 8189. The exhibit was sponsored by area Sertoma Clubs of Citrus, Crystal River, Dunnellon, Free Wheelers, Inverness Manatee, Nature Coast and Wahoo.

Other speakers Saturday included state Rep. Nancy Argenziano, county commissioners Jim Fowler and Josh Wooten and Crystal River Mayor Ron Kitchen.

The wall exhibit continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Monday at Rock Crusher Canyon, 275 S Rock Crusher Road. Admission and parking are free.

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