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Traveling Vietnam Memorial Makes An Impact In New Lenox

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Vietnam Veteran Gregory Fuller visits the traveling memorial that includes the name of his cousin. (CBS)

Vietnam Veteran Gregory Fuller visits the traveling memorial that includes the name of his cousin. (CBS)

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NEW LENOX, Ill. (CBS) — Some were moved to tears, others to anger.

Both reactions were touched off by the travelling replica of Washington’s Vietnam Memorial, which wrapped up a four-day stop in New Lenox on Monday.

Thousands turned out to pay their respects and to remember, CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports.

Vietnam vet Gregory Fuller was searching for the name of his cousin, who was killed in Vietnam just two weeks before he got there.

“It was kind of rough on me because nobody told me until I came back,” he said.

He found it: Asa Martin Jr. His emotions of pain and loss were similar to hundreds of others.

“It brings back memories, and right now I’m choking up … not just for my cousin, but for the others that had served over there and passed,” he says.

It was a similar story for the relatives, friends and loved ones reliving memories of lives cut short in Vietnam.

Gary Sardeno of downstate Gardner was looking for a schoolboy friend.

“It was a worthless war. It was worthless. Thousands of young people lost their lives,” he said.

Volunteers at the New Lenox American Legion Post worked months just to prepare to host the traveling memorial. The wall consists of 140 panels. At 252 feet long, it is half the size of the original memorial in Washington.

But its impact is just as strong.

Shawnya Owens found the name of a first cousin she’d never met — Murrie Lee Blocker.

“I’m very happy now. Now I have his name, a picture of the wall to go with his Vietnam photo at home,” she said.

Closing ceremonies for the moving wall were scheduled for Monday night.

The traveling wall has been on display since 1984. Two copies now crisscross the country, from April through November each year.

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