Solemn tributes paid at Vietnam Veterans Memorial

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ocean Springs is always an emotional place, especially on Memorial Day. From the bricks with deceased veterans names etched on them, to the flags at half staff, to the patriotic tributes lovingly placed there.

There was no planned Memorial Day ceremony at the memorial, but several people stopped by to remember loved ones lost in that war. Each visitor has a story to tell.  For instance, the story of a man who lost his life in the war. Terry Johnson was a first cousin to John Crow.

"Bud, we called him. He was killed on April the 9th of 1969. He was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam," Johnson recalled.

The Johnsons visit twice a year, according to Becky Johnson.

"Well, we just come and look at the different pictures and just look Bud's picture and just remember him as a young man."

Some, like Randy Wrigley, visit the memorial for other reasons.

"I just come every year just to walk through and remind myself of how young these men were and how sad it is and just pay my respects," Wrigley said.

For many of those visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, seeing their loved ones names etched on the wall, seeing their faces again, and seeing the patriotic tributes given to these men, even after all these years, it still becomes very emotional.

That's true for James Morris, wiping tears from his eyes as he remembers his father.  James was six when his dad was killed in Vietnam.

"It helps me take a look at my life," Morris said.  "Trying to be something that I hope he would be proud of. But it's sad, yeah."

Meanwhile, Terry Johnson has some advice to those having fun on this national holiday.

"The BBQ and the beach, that's alright, that's cool. Just don't forget, that's all. Just don't forget what price was paid."

A price that ensures our freedom, for now and forever.

In all, 633 Mississippians lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

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