By MARY RAINWATER
“All gave some... Some gave all” was a message that could be seen waving briskly in the breeze on a white flag heralding the four branches of the the United States military: the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force.
The banner was one of a dozen flags flying over a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall set up Thursday at the Texas State Railroad Palestine Depot on U.S. 84 East.
The traveling wall comes to town as part of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, the highlight of the railroad’s 16th annual Salute to the Armed Forces event. The wall arrived Wednesday and was escorted by the Patriot Guard and other veteran groups on a five-mile route from the Palestine Mall parking lot to its destination.
Janet Gregg, marketing and public relations manager for the Texas State Railroad, said workers started setting up the 360-foot wall at 8 a.m. Thursday and were finished around noon.
“We literally had half the wall set up and people were already here looking,” she said.
According to John Barron, director of operations for the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, the traveling wall makes 50 to 60 stops annually across the nation.
“The traveling Vietnam Wall is an 80 percent (sized) replica of the wall in Washington, so it's just slightly smaller than the one there,” Barron said. “It is the largest traveling replica in the country. It does have all the names... that's a total of 58,286, and that's good through Monday because they are adding a few to the wall in Washington on Monday” — Memorial Day. “I just don't know how many yet.”
Gregg said the wall is open to visitors 24 hours a day and will remain on display at the Palestine Depot through Monday.
On Thursday, volunteers could be seen at a station in front of the wall to help persons look up the location of a name. Sheets and pencils are also available for family and friends to do rubbings of their loved one's name on the wall.
In addition to the Vietnam replica, the traveling memorial features The Cost of Freedom Tribute, which includes: Vietnam timeline panels, the Walk of Heroes Collection, a World War II Tribute Collection, Korea Tribute Collection, a 9/11 Tribute, Commander in Chief (Presidents) panels, law enforcement and firefighter tribute panels, a Fort Hood tribute panel and a gold dog tag collection for Global War on Terror casualties, as well as a collection of conflict photos and listing of names of casualties between 1980 to 2000. There is no cost to park or view the tributes.
“The purpose of our whole event is to pay tribute to all branches and all eras of military service to our country,” Gregg said. “So what you'll see out here is people representing five different eras of war. In addition to the wall and The Cost of Freedom Tribute, there'll be all these living history people, reenactors, static military displays, military support groups that have booths and a few paid vendors.”
In addition, the “Patriot Train” will run three times each day at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to the Jarvis Wye stop and back. The ride is roughly an hour in length. All current or former military with identification will be able to ride the train at no charge.
The weekend event will begin at 9 a.m. each day, Friday through Sunday, with a flag-raising ceremony that includes an honor guard, prayer and speaker. Days will end at 5 p.m. with a lowering of the colors.
For more information, call 903-683-3451 or go to www.TexasStateRR.com.