Dozens gather to pay tribute at Vietnam Memorial in Ocean Springs

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - There was no official ceremony, no planned event. But the tribute paid on this Memorial Day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ocean Springs was just as powerful as any in the country.

Juliana Lewis came to the memorial with her four children. They had drawn pictures to hand to any veteran who showed up.

"I want to teach them that there's more to Memorial Day that just having cook-outs and playing," Lewis explained.  "I want them to know about the men and women who have fought for us."

The Harrington family also came.  A loved one was taken from them too soon in Vietnam.  Jerry Harrington recalled his loss.

"He was 19-years-old and he paid a price for me and my family and we just want to thank him for that."

The Johnson family also felt the pain of war.  Becky Johnson looked back in time.

"My husband's first cousin, David Reid Crow, was killed April the 9th, 1969, and it was a just a few weeks prior to my husband going over to Vietnam."

All of the people who visited the memorial in Ocean Springs Monday said it's a fitting tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in Vietnam, but they also say it's very emotional remembering what happened.

"I had a high school buddy and off he went to the service. He joined before he finished high school, went to serve his country and gave his life," William Wittman remembered.

Other veterans showed up to remember, including Ron Rainey.

"I can't explain everything. I'm just saying that I'm a veteran too, and I came out of Korea and Vietnam," Rainey said.

"I've always felt very committed to honoring the military," said James Hammond. "My dad was in the Army during World War II in Hawaii."

Hugs help soothe the pain, but nothing can heal the broken hearts, according to Johnson.

"Oh, it's like it happened yesterday. We still have the memories."

Memories that will never leave, just as this memorial will stand tall forever.

During the Vietnam War, 633 Mississippians died. Thousands more were injured.

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