Veterans search for names at Memorial Wall after panels installed in Perryville, MO

NFL Hall of Famer, and former St. Louis Cardinals football player, Jackie Smith volunteers his time in helping out with the MNVM (Source: Mike Mohundro, KFVS)
NFL Hall of Famer, and former St. Louis Cardinals football player, Jackie Smith volunteers his time in helping out with the MNVM (Source: Mike Mohundro, KFVS)

PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - The first panels went up on Saturday at Missouri's National Veterans Memorial (MNVM) in Perryville, Missouri on Saturday.

Now, workers have installed two dozen as they soon look to complete installing half of the panels of the Memorial Wall.

In a special event on Tuesday morning, the memorial site's first flag flown was retired.

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Dozens of Veterans gathered together to watch the flag become retired. Afterward, many took a stroll to see the new panels and to find their loved ones and friends that are listed.

"I love it!" Vietnam Veteran Stanley Colon said. "It's amazing. It's nice."

This Memorial Wall means a lot to Bob Herschbach and Colon as they fought in the Vietnam War.

"It's kind of a heartfelt feeling to see these panels go up the way they're going up," Herschbach said. "And I'll be glad when they are up."

"A lot of memories. A lot of memories!" Colon added. "I was over there in '67 and '68."

Herschbach was one of many people there looking for names on the wall of loved ones or close friends. He found two names already in the panels that are up.

"One of them was my first cousin that died a week before I got over there. David Herschbach," he said with pride. "Then I have a friend of mine over in Chester. Him and his wife both lost their brothers over there."

The new memorial is the only exact replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Robinson Construction is the general contractor on the project. They are helped by Brewer Monument and Baston Monument with installing the panels.

NFL Hall of Famer, and former St. Louis Cardinals football player, Jackie Smith volunteers his time in helping out with the MNVM and wanted to be there to watch the first panels go up on Saturday.

"It's really the pinnacle of a lot of work that's going around here just to make this happen," Smith said. "It gives you a lot of anticipation of what this is going to be when it's up. Just to see these few panels that are up right now is really exciting. It just changes the whole flavor and the whole expectation of this project."

Missouri's National Veterans Memorial President Don Fulford has seen the many stages of America's Vietnam Wall come together.

He is excited to see the panels go up as well.

"We are proud of our many veterans and proud of this small way we can recognize all of them for their bravery and service," Fulford said.

We interviewed Fulford during the groundbreaking event of the MNVM just over a year ago. He feels it's come a long way since that day on March 29, 2017.

"It's a great step for Perry County as a community but also for the United States because this wall will mark accessibility for our Veterans to come to a special place and meet with other fellow Veterans and reflect, pray, and look back on their service to our country," Fulford said at the groundbreaking.

The wall will have all the nearly 60,000 names on it as it stands at the Vietnam Veterans Wall in D.C.

For Colon, he said the Memorial Wall being here in Perryville will give access to more people to view it since it would be closer for many as opposed to taking a long trip to Washington D.C.

"I am just amazed really, to have it come to this town here compared to going over to Washington D.C. It's wonderful," Colon said. "It's going to bring in a lot of people. A lot of people that can't go to D.C. can come here and see this."

For Colon, he feels this Memorial Wall will redefine the Perryville community and bring in many more people to the area.

"They have no idea what it's going to do," Colon said. "6 million people I think, come to D.C. each year. If we get a third of them, imagine what this little town will think."

"I think people are going to be amazed at the amount of traffic that's going to be coming in this community and see what this community has done for the Vietnam Veterans," Herschbach added.

Smith said he feels honored to be a part of this historic wall being built and wants to make sure it is known that all soldiers to be remembered and honored.

"It's an honor for me to be asked to be a part of it," Smith said. "It's an honor for all of us to be a part of it. To be able to do a little small thing to these men and women know how much they are appreciated and of course, it's symbolic for our country for sure."

For more information about the MNVM Park, go to their website here.

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