Sumter, SC (WLTX) - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall has been set up for Memorial Day weekend at the Iris Festival in Sumter.
"Our typical 18 hour day consisted of flying across the ocean to Vietnam and flying back," said Retired Air Force pilot Douglas Wilson. "The effects on the ground were the sustained rumbling and shock waves that were heard and felt for miles around."
Wilson spoke to hundreds during a wall opening ceremony Friday afternoon and remembered the turbulent times.
"Never in the history of our country, have American military men and women, been so demeaned, so shunned, and so vilified as those returning from the Vietnam conflict," he said. "That was part of the reason this wall was formed, so that would never happen again."
The replica wall is 3/5 the size of the original memorial wall in Washington, DC.
"This wall is so much to me because it gives us the opportunity to honor the ones that went and served our country for us," said Cornelius Davis Jr.
The wall travels around the country with manager Gary Welsh who says "It's insured for over $300,000 as a precious artwork."
Welsh says it takes about 4 hours to set up and is some 300 feet long.
"Having the opportunity to touch the wall, feel the name, and the natives of South Carolina that were a part of this, it gives me great pride," said Norvell Jackson.
Jackson spent the last 8 years of a 30 year career in the Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base.
"All the family members that would never get a chance to go to DC, this affords them the opportunity," he said. "Even though it's a replica, it means a lot and having that moment you can turn around, research names, touch the wall, there's no greater honor."