COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The National Infantry Museum is saluting Vietnam veterans this week as a new Vietnam Memorial Plaza was dedicated on March 21, 2014 featuring the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall.
The dedication started around 11 a.m shortly after the graduation of new infantry soldiers.
"I was in heavy combat in Vietnam," said Owen Ditchfield, a Vietnam veteran. "Other 20 others were killed in fighting."
Owen Ditchfield came to the dedication to see the ¾ scale replica of the Vietnam Wall to look for the names of his friends who lost their lives in the war.
"I still think about the war, what I did, and what else I could have done to prevent other people from dying," Ditchfield said. "It's not PTSD. It's more like a song in your head. You can never get it out."
Ditchfield said he would have been killed in the war too, had it not been for one soldier who helped save his life. Ditchfield met the man who saved his life at the ceremony today.
"I went up to the man who saved my life and thanked him," Ditchfield said. "This Vietnam Wall and the ceremony brought all of us together."
Veterans, friends and family members said the wall with more than 58,000 names of killed or missing Vietnam soldiers brings healing power.
"I lost my friend in the war," said 58-year-old Landon Terrell.
Terrell never served in the war, but his friend who went to the Vietnam War told Terrell he would come back. But it was a promise the friend never kept.
"He never came back," Terrell said. "I still have memories of us going to school and hanging out. Families and friends can now visit and find their loved ones."
When asked if seeing the names of killed or missing Vietnam Veterans, Ditchfield said it actually bought him closure.
"It's like catharsis. It brings closure," Ditchfield said. "Having the wall at the National Infantry Museum show us the change in the attitude that the public has about Vietnam veterans. We are finally getting the thanks we deserve."
The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall will be at the National Infantry Museum for five years as of now.
For more on the wall, visit the page: https://www.nationalinfantrymuseum.org/vietnam-memorial/