SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors, veterans, families and friends gathered May 6-7 at San Diego's Balboa Park to view the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, honoring those who died or are missing in Vietnam.
The wall is a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and has been on a nationwide tour since 1998. Etched with more than 58,000 names, the replica stands eight feet high and stretches more than 240 feet long.
"My wife and I both have family whose lives were taken in Vietnam, and it's a real honor to be here in the presence of all these supporters," said Engineman 3rd Class Brandon Crane.
Crane, who is stationed aboard USS Cleveland (LPD 7) here, said he has a tremendous amount of pride serving his country.
"Being here makes me realize day in and day out that our freedom is not free, and I love what I do. I'm in awe and glad to have the opportunity to come see [the wall] and don't have to travel across the world to do so," he said. "It's great to see that people have faith in America and their troops."
More than 500 volunteers assist in the operation of the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall experience. Their jobs include greeting attendees, locating family and friends' names in the database and on the wall, distributing literature, as well as providing emotional support to the public.
A volunteer since the 1970s, Benjamin Rodriguez, Army veteran, said he enjoys giving back to the community by helping people find their loved ones' names on the wall and providing support.
"Personally, I do it for the emotional healing process and to give back to the community," he said. "By coming here and touching the wall, it's a chance for people to heal and receive closure."
The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall's next scheduled visit is in Fresno, Calif.
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