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Traveling memorial is a reminder of the cost of freedom

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Sep 11 2012 08:36:21 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 02 2012 09:02:00 PM CDT
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

Pointing out names on a wall is something Vietnam Veteran Charles Young has waited decades to do.

"I always wanted to make it to D.C. to see that [Vietnam Veterans Memorial] wall and never was able to. I prayed that the Lord [would] let me live long enough to see it," Young told News 5.

A traveling Vietnam wall replica is making its home in Johnson City for a week, and it's given Young a chance to honor those he can never forget.

"There [were] over 200 in my company alone gave their lives," said Young.

As Young began telling News 5 his story, he told us the wall reminds him of one man in particular, who moments before taking off, took Young's place on a helicopter heading into combat.

"He took a bullet that was meant for me, and he's been on my heart and in my mind for 40 some years," Young said as tears came to his eyes.

We learned this story of selfless sacrifice is not lost on civilians.

Some were taking pictures of the names of fallen heroes, while others use the wall to teach the next generation of Americans, so these lives were not lost in vain.

"My girls, they need to know this, because one day this isn't going to be around," said Darlene Parmer.

But for those like Young who know firsthand that freedom was bought with the blood of his brothers in combat, the wall can be too much for one breaking heart trying desperately to heal.

"It just hurts so deep to see this," said Young.

The traveling Vietnam wall replica sits in the lawn of the University Parkway Baptist Church in Johnson City.

It will be open to the public 24 hours a day all the way through Saturday, September 15.

Many veterans there told News 5, they encourage the public to come out and remember this sacrifice made for freedom.