Vietnam Memorial Wall replica on display in Niles for Cost of Fr - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Vietnam Memorial Wall replica on display in Niles for Cost of Freedom Tour

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The Vietnam Memorial Wall replica will be on display through Sunday The Vietnam Memorial Wall replica will be on display through Sunday
NILES, MI - There were over 58,000 American men and women who died in the Vietnam War. The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. has each and every name on display. The Cost of Freedom Tour in Niles, Michigan is giving people the opportunity to see a replica of this wall in person.

The wall was brought to Niles High School on Wednesday evening during the Cost of Freedom Ride. Thursday was the first day it was open to the public.

"It's an honor to be here," Army veteran Bud Baker said. Baker fought in the Vietnam War and says he recognized many of the names on the wall. He was in his Army uniform as he made his way along the wall. "I'm not wearing it just for me, but for those guys that didn't make it home," Baker said.

The Vietnam Memorial Wall replica is open for viewing at anytime of the day. There are veterans and volunteers posted at the wall at all times, including night shifts. John Sly is the Post Commander of American Legion Post 26 Niles. He is one of the veterans who will stand on guard overnight. "It's an honor. Just making sure my brothers and sisters are not left alone over night or at all," Sly said.

Sly says it was an easy decision to volunteer for an overnight shift. There will be two people posted at the wall and two others walking the area for each of the three night shifts. Baker says he is not surprised his fellow veterans would volunteer for such a task. "We're here for those guys that gave their lives. It's not a sacrifice for us to be out here or spend the night watching the wall," Baker said.

This is the second time the replica has been in Berrien County, but the first time in Niles. "When I first started doing this, I was given the impression that Niles didn't care about the veterans, and I'm being proven wrong by this here," Sly said.

The Cost of Freedom Tour runs through Sunday afternoon with the closing ceremony set for 3:00pm that day. Baker hopes people will come out to pay their respects for the fallen soldiers as well as build a deeper appreciation for those men and women. "They didn't understand Vietnam and when they see the wall, they know what Vietnam was about,” Baker said.

There are also a number of booths including the Mobile Vets Center, South Bend Vet Center, Forgotten Heroes, and Blue Star Mothers on display. There is an exhibit called “Through the Eyes Exhibit” which has over 850 items from the Vietnam War era.

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