Replica of Vietnam Veterans Memorial arrives in San Antonio

375-foot-long wall contains names of 58,000 soldiers killed in action

SAN ANTONIO – A traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington opened to the public Thursday morning in San Antonio.

Known as "The Wall That Heals," the exhibit is 375 feet in length, or three-quarters in size of the original wall. The traveling replica stands 7.5 feet high at its tallest point.

Just like the original memorial, visitors will be able to experience the wall rising above them, as they walk toward the apex. The exhibit also includes a mobile education center.

An opening ceremony at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery drew dozens of Vietnam veterans and their families.

"Having served in Vietnam, I know some of my friends are on that wall," said Gene Kuwik, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant. 

"We lost a lot of members, and we also had a lot of Medal of Honor recipients, and I'm real proud of that," said Sgt. Major Fred Balderrama, a Vietnam veteran.

Kuwik said the exhibit means more than words can describe to veterans who fought in a war that many people back then didn't approve of.

"It instills patriotism in our youth of today, to be able to see something like this. Know what our country went through back in the '60s and '70s, and I think it's a wonderful thing we are doing," he said.

Kuwik urges everyone to visit the exhibit to learn more about the war. 

"This wall helped make that happen, and I'm proud to be here today. I really truly am so happy for all the bodies of service in Vietnam, and God bless our country, God bless America," he said.

Visitors will be able to visit the replica 24 hours a day until it closes at 3 p.m. Sunday.

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