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Veterans traveling memorial visits Gorham

The Vietnam Memorial wall came to Gorham last week. (Photo by Erik Eisele) (click for larger version)
June 17, 2009
GORHAM — The American Veterans Traveling Tribute memorial arrived in Gorham last Wednesday to the Gorham Common and was on display for the weekend.

The centerpiece was a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall, which is in Washington D.C. The replica is 80 percent the size of the original wall.

The memorial travels around the country bringing communities the opportunity to remember and honor people who served.

In addition to the wall there were memorials for every war the United States has ever fought in, from the Revolutionary War to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There were signs with the number of soldiers who served, went missing, died and were wounded during each war.

A plate of dog-tags named every soldier to die from 1980 to 2000, and another several plates had dog-tags from every soldier killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

There was also a September 11 memorial.

The memorial was in Gorham with the support of American Legion Post 82. It arrived at the Common with a motorcycle motorcade after a tour of the North Country.

The wall was erected on Thursday, and the memorial officially opened Friday with a flyover by National Guard Black Hawk helicopters.

The memorial was open 24 hours a day for the weekend. People stopped to read the names and leave flowers and photos.

Bruce Springsteen's Vietnam War protest song "Born in the USA" played while people strolled past signs listing the numbers of dead in the Korean, Spanish-American and 1812 wars on Friday afternoon. Although there was a fried dough stand and a soft serve ice cream stand, like at a circus, the mood was subdued. Some people were making rubbings of the wall, others were checking the list of names. The wall was the centerpiece, but every monument caught someone's eye and made them pause.

A parade drew crowds on Saturday and a ceremonial flag burning was held on Sunday. Closing ceremonies were on Sunday evening.

The next stop for the memorial is Norwich, Conn.

To learn more about the memorial visit www.avtt.org.

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