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Traveling tribute pays homage to America's war heroes

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Posted at 9:27 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 11:50:42-04

OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. — There's a traveling tribute in West Michigan set up at the Oceana County Fairgrounds.

It'll be there for the next few days honoring the service and sacrifice of America's war heroes.

It's a formal way to honor the fallen.

A wreath-laying ceremony on Thursday recognized the war heroes who gave up everything.

It's a traveling tribute to American veterans.

The Cost of Freedom tribute covers conflicts from World War I to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Next to that is a tribute to remember the fallen.

Gina Mead helped bring the wall to Hart in Oceana County.

“It’s all post-9/11 service personnel who’ve either lost their lives to PTSD, training accidents or had been killed in action,” says Mead, who spent six years in the Navy.

“We made this happen together and as a community and surrounding communities, so we’re very, very proud to have this,” says Mead.

“This is all done with the cooperation of the families,” says David Luton, a national representative for patriotic productions.

It helped put the memorial wall up, honoring the fallen who've died in the last 20 years.

The display recognizes 5,279 American heroes.

“I take the time and get to know a lot of them.”

The Vietnam War itself became very unpopular in the U.S. More than 58,000 Americans lost their lives. 150,000 others were wounded.

“What we have here is the 80 percent replica of the Vietnam traveling wall,” says Mead.

When service members did return home, they endured even more trauma.

They were ridiculed, yelled at, and had no victory parade welcoming them home.

“It’s our opportunity to continue to remember the fallen that actually perished in this war," says Mead, "and it’s an opportunity for our veterans to possibly heal, to come and see their best friend or their uncle or their father or brother’s name on this wall and give then an opportunity they’ve been hoping for, to see that name and bring just a tad bit of healing.”

It took them about six hours to put the walls up.

It's free to visit and will be in place at the Oceana County Fairgrounds through Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.

There's also an honor guard on site to answer any questions.

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