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July 15, 2014 08:00 AM

Traveling Vietnam War Memorial Visited Minnesota

Marshall, MN

This weekend, people in Marshall, Minnesota were able to experience a 3/5 scale replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C.

This traveling monument might be smaller than the one in the nation's capital, but it still contains all 58,280 names of people who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. There was a very steady stream of people visiting the memorial in Marshall, and it’s often referred to as the wall of healing.

Five years ago, Bruce Knieff saw this exact traveling wall for the first time in a town about 25 miles away from Marshall. Since then, he and his friends have visited the memorial each summer in various cities across the Midwest.

"We've been doing this now since 2009. And that was my dream was to bring it here in Marshall," Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall Coordinator Bruce Knieff said.

And after about three years of planning and $19,000 of fundraising, that's exactly what he did.

Knieff is a veteran of the Vietnam War, and he recognizes six names on the 300 foot wall from his time overseas.

"Like all Vietnam Vets, I was indestructible I thought, and I didn't want to admit that I was having problems both physically and mentally, and that's what this wall has slowly done is to help me heal and bring some closure to me too," Knieff said.

Knieff says the memorial has also helped him to open up to his family about the experience, but the wall means different things to different people.

"Like this lady that finally found her brother on the wall. She cried and cried and cried because she finally found him, and we cried with her because we were standing right there next to her trying, we helped her find her brother's name for the first time," Knieff said.

This traveling replica isn't meant just for veterans. Carol Nelson visited the wall because she grew up during the Vietnam War era, and appreciates the respect it brings to veterans.

"I think it brings a lot of recognition and I think these veterans should've been recognized from the beginning. They served, whether they called it a conflict, whether it was called a war, they deserve to be recognized," Knieff said.

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