Vietnam Traveling Memorial in East Peoria honors more than 58,000 people who served our country

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EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A traveling memorial is honoring those who gave their lives for our country.

On Wednesday, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial made its way from Florida to East Peoria for the first time. Veteran Richard Franzen said each name on the wall has a story.

“I am here today because my name is not on the wall,” Frazen said.

Making it’s way more than 100,000 miles, the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall came to Levee Park in East Peoria Monday. It stands six feet tall and is nearly 300 feet wide. It’s 2/5 the size of the actual Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.

It honors more than 58,000 men and women who served our country from 1959 — 1975. Franzen served in the army for 27 years and he said seeing his friends’ names on the wall brings him guilt.

“People need to see and need to understand. Respect and understanding what these men went through and women,” he said.

Memorial Wall Manager Doc Russo travels all over the country bringing closure to loved ones who can never experience the 2-acre Vietnam Memorial in D.C.

“I made a promise to one of my aunts many years ago. I have a cousin who’s on the wall and as long as I can, he and the other 58,000 men and women will never be forgotten. It’s the first step in the healing process for a lot of vets coming home from Vietnam, they’ve had a burden around with them for 50 years,” Russo said.

For Franzen, he said the Vietnam war is a time he will never forget.

“I have a lot of friends who are on that wall. I think it’s great we can travel all over the United States to show the people how many people actually died in the war,” Frazen said.

The wall will be taken down Sunday. An opening wall ceremony will be held at Levee Park Thursday afternoon. During the ceremony, L. Col. Hal Fritz of Peoria, who earned the medal of honor for his actions during the Vietnam War, will be honored.

Volunteers are needed to take down the wall. If you want to help, you can show up Sunday at the Levee Park between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., or email event co-chairman Dan Decker at dandecker73@gmail.com to sign up ahead of time.

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