Thousands of people from all over the country turned out for the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall in Valencia the weekend of September 26 through 29.
“I wanted to do something for the Vietnam veterans who were treated so horribly when they came back from the war, it was an unpopular war,” said Chuck Morris, Korean War veteran and commander of the Friendly Valley Veterans Club.
More than 58,000 men and women of the United States military died in the Vietnam War which lasted from 1955 through 1975.
“The United States was against the war, therefore they became against the soldiers who had nothing to do with the war other than the fact that the government and the county said ‘You gotta go to war’. And they did,” said Morris.
When the men and women that survived this war came back to the United States, most did not receive a warm welcome home.
“For losing the amount of people we did, who are on this wall, 58,238. Something had to be done,” Morris said. “I thought by bringing this wall here, it can be maybe a healing process for a lot of veterans who came back, who maybe know people who are on this wall. We wound up getting this wall for four days.”
All four days that the wall was at the Westfield Valencia Town Center, a ceremony would be held in the evening which included several different events. All of the names on the wall were read each night, along with the Pledge of Allegiance, Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, various speakers, prayers, and the All Veterans Honor Squad 21.
“The people that have been here over the past four days, thousands and thousands have been here and I think for me, the thing that says it all, is that when I see little kids touching the wall and their parents, who also knew nothing about Vietnam, telling their little kids what all this means on the wall,” Morris said. “To me, that was worth the whole experience of having the wall here.”
Several local businesses made this event happen including the City of Santa Clarita, California Highway Patrol, the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station, as well as KHTS AM 1220.
“The reaction from Santa Clarita was absolutely unbelievable,” Morris said. “I never heard a negative word in the four days that I was here. Everyone keeps telling me, ‘Thank you for bringing this here’. I think that this will go down in Santa Clarita Valley history and the city agrees.”
14 soldiers from the Santa Clarita Valley lost their lives during the Vietnam War. Those 14 reserved chairs near the stage were left empty in honor of the 14 Santa Clarita Valley residents.
- Elmer Robert Lee Ables, Jr.
- John William Borders, Jr.
- Michael Andrew Fay
- Terry Dale Gemas
- Joseph Samuel Godwin
- Henry Chester Klinger
- Gary Robert Monteleone
- Frank Dennis Ortega
- Stephen Russell Peterson
- Carl Leonard Radtke
- David Lee Reeder
- Charles Clarence Smith, Jr.
- Bruce Wayne St Louis
- Gary Allen Turnbull
“It has been a great journey and the people I have met along the way, the people who put this wall together, our city, people like Jeri Goldman,” Morris said. “It couldn’t have been done, I had the idea but without the city, this could not have been done.”
Mayor Bob Kellar, Bill Schwartz, Jeri Seratti-Goldman, and Chuck Morris are just a few of the Santa Clarita Valley residents who helped make this event possible.
“There has never been an event like this in Santa Clarita,” Morris said. ”Hopefully this will be remembered for years, and years, and years to come.”
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