At Greis Veterans Park in Lynbrook, Robert Chiappone, left, Connie...

At Greis Veterans Park in Lynbrook, Robert Chiappone, left, Connie Steers, and Bill Torres view the Vietnam Moving Wall. (June 10, 2010) Credit: Daniel Goodrich

When men like Robert Chiappone and Bill Torres place their Purple Hearts at the base of The Moving Wall, it can unleash deep emotions within all veterans.

"It's about all the loss, about a mutual respect for all who served," Army Sgt. John O'Dougherty of Valley Stream and New York's 69th Infantry Regiment said Thursday morning as the wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, was raised in Lynbrook. "It shows we really are a band of brothers."

O'Dougherty is a co-sponsor of the wall's appearance this weekend at Greis Veterans Memorial Park. One reason for the display, he said, is to remind veterans that they do not stand alone.

Thursday morning's placement of Purple Hearts, accompanied by a color guard, was a small way to honor the raising of the replica memorial, O'Dougherty said.

The display can be viewed around the clock until 10 a.m. Monday.

O'Dougherty and co-sponsor Nick Camarano of the Western Long Island Detachment Marine Corps League in Lynbrook have invited several service organizations to the park in an effort to reach out to veterans, specifically those from Vietnam.

"A lot of guys came back from Vietnam and didn't get the help they needed," O'Dougherty said. "Here's a chance to see what can be done."

Chiappone, of East Meadow, and Torres, of Lindenhurst, said placing their medals stirred sorrowful memories and emotions.

According to Chiappone, who served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967 with the 83rd Artillery, placing his medal meant "the wall is sacred ground.

"It says we remember those we lost," he said.

Torres was in Vietnam with the Big Red One, the Army's 1st Infantry Division, from 1969 to 1970. Placing his medal signified "a little closure," he said. "It's a way of saying thank you to all those who we lost, to all your friends who never came back."



The Moving Wall is a half-size replica of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and has been on display around the country for more than 20 years. It first went on display in 1984, in Tyler, Texas. Two structures of The Moving Wall travel the United States between April and November, spending about a week at each site.


The Moving Wall is about 252 feet long, with two separate walls, each about 126 feet long. At the vertex, where the two walls join at an angle, the panels are 6 feet high.


58,253 names are listed on the replica memorial. About 1,300 of these men and women are still unaccounted for prisoners of war and those missing in action.


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