The traveling tribute wall will be displayed at Warren's Packard Park around the clock through Wednesday.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
WARREN -- Standing in front of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute wall, Muriel Robinson of Warren struggled to find the words to express her feelings.
"It's still such an emotional experience to see it," said Robinson, whose husband, staff Sgt. Eugene M. Robinson, died July 30, 1969, during the war. His name, along with 58,000 others of people who died during the Vietnam War, is on the wall.
"My emotions are indescribable," she said.
Saturday's visit to Packard Park was the first time Robinson has viewed her husband's name on the traveling wall. She visited the permanent Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., a few years ago.
Robinson's husband not only left a wife behind, but two sons and a daughter.
"My daughter doesn't remember him," Robinson said. "She only knows what I've told her and what my family has told her about her father."
One of many: Robinson was among the hundreds of people -- some who knew people on the wall, others who did not -- to view the 378-foot, black monument honoring those who died during the Vietnam War.
The wall exhibition opened at noon Saturday at Packard Park. It will be open around the clock through 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Fourth of July.
Pete Rhome of Brunswick, Ohio, a Vietnam War veteran, has visited the traveling wall many times.
"These are my brothers," Rhome said as he points to the names on the wall. "If I go too long without seeing them, I miss them."
Rhome held a piece of yellow paper with the names of former neighbors, high school buddies, members of his unit and friends of friends that he looks for every time he visits the wall.
"I've got a lot of people on this wall," he said.
Philip Scholz of Bolivar, Ohio served in the Air Force from 1969 to 1977, but did not see action in the Vietnam War. He doesn't know many names on the wall, but he still feels compelled to visit the monument.
"A lot of people want to forget this war ever happened," Scholz said. "It was not the best time in the country's history, but there's no better country in the world to live in."
John Devitt, a former helicopter door gunner and Army veteran, came up with the idea of a moving wall after attending the 1982 dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He wanted people who could not visit the Washington, D.C., monument to experience seeing the names of those who died during the war.