News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, May 22, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Next week, millions of people will spend Memorial Day honoring the men and women who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
Starting Thursday, you will be able to see the names and help remember the more than 58,000 service members who were killed or went missing during the Vietnam War.
More than 100 Patriot Guard riders accompanied a scaled-down version of the Vietnam Wall, starting at the Alabama state line and ending at Fort Gordon on Tuesday.
"We picked it up at six this morning over at the border and we had a police escort the whole way through," explained veteran and Patriot Rider Rob Robinson.
Veteran Keri Pinckney brought her grandson, Jonathan, to teach him a valuable lesson.
"It's always important for me to support veterans. It's important for him to know the sacrifices that have been made by people and are still being made by people for him," Pinckney said.
It will take a group of soldiers about eight to 10 hours to set up.
Organizers hope it gives some veterans peace.
"Many of them are handicapped, many of them don't have money in these times to go to the wall in D.C., so we're bringing the wall to them to give them the healing that they need," said Pastor Paul Knox with the Order of the Cross Motorcycle Ministry.
"I'm a Vietnam veteran myself. I remember the years coming home that wasn't as pleasant then as it is now. There's a lot more respect and a lot more appreciation for the Vietnam vet now," Robinson said.
For Robinson, this wall is a chance to say goodbye to dozens of friends.
"I know 37 people, personally, whose names are on the wall. It brings back a lot of memories that probably I don't necessarily like to bring back up," he said.
It's tough to relive, but he's more than honored to say he served next to them.
"It's also a source of great pride to know there are people in this great country who are willing to put the uniform on, who are willing to go out and write that check, that blank check for up to and including their life," he said.
Fort Gordon soldiers are working to put the wall together. It will be on display at Barton Field, starting Thursday at 9 a.m. through Memorial Day on Monday.
Four years ago when this same group brought the wall here, more than 40,000 people came to see it. They expect just as many this weekend.