YREKA, Calif. – Jackie Sandford and her daughter Talya Nicholson scan through names on a 300-foot wall, periodically taking out their phone to snap shots of certain ones.
The say while the names may not be etched in actual stone, they’re no less powerful.
“It just brings back the memories of living through it,” said Sandford.
From Vietnam veterans to young children, hundreds showed up to pay their respects to replica Vietnam Memorial, and the soldiers depicted on its face.
Many of the visitors could have ended up on the wall themselves, but instead made it home to the scorn of the countrymen.
“We couldn’t even leave Travis Air Force Base, where we landed in our uniforms,” said veteran Marge Wheeler. “We had to get out of our uniforms and put on civilian clothes.”
Now those uniforms are on proud display.
Organizers say that wall, a three-fifths replica of the DC Memorial, doesn’t just serve as a reminder to those who were alive at the time, it also helps younger generations to understand their sacrifice.
“This is a living history,” said Vietnam veteran and event organizer Bob Singleton. “We’re all still here and we’ll talk about it now, though we wouldn’t maybe 30 or 40 years ago.”
Of the names on display, 16 come from Siskiyou County soldiers.
Those men and women — young adults at the time — were given special recognition through ceremony and mementos from their past left at the base of the wall.
“A lot of these people know those youngsters,” said Singleton. “It gives them an opportunity to see the name and reflect a little bit, know the families.”
While the wall and its names will move on after Sunday, residents say they’re grateful for the chance to see for themselves the respect denied to their loved ones for so long.
“I’ve been looking forward for this day to come,” said Sandford. “I probably never would have seen it if it didn’t come here.”