Vietnam War Memorial gets restoration

PHILADELPHIA - November 11, 2009

The ceremony began with the Presentation of Colors by the 82nd Airborne Division Association.

Flags were raised on five new poles representing each of the Armed Services. One flag will, for the first time, honor POW/MIAs, ensuring their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

State Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffrey, a Marine Corp Veteran, spoke of the sacrifices of all our servicemen and women and announced he will head up a program of Veteran Courts in Allegheny County that will help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"We understand that they're not bad people. We understand they're suffering and we understand that the best way to handle it is to get them treatment and medication," Justice McCaffrey said.

A LaSalle College High School unveiled the Wall of Names; 646 revitalized were names of the fallen.

New granite now replaces misshapen bricks and new cameras provide improved security and a website for veterans to view the memorial.

8th graders from St. Mary's Interparochial School reflected on what this day off from classes meant to them.

"It's sad. Just as Justice McCaffrey said, most of these people were not that much older than us, but we're here to celebrate what they did for us," 8th grader Brandon Newell said.

"It is a solemn occasion, but we try to remember how they died for our country and our safety," 8th grader Henry Cammisa said.

"I can't image being in their position, losing a brother, a sister, their father, anything like that. It's really sad. I pray for them," 8th grader Rebecca Roman said.

"I do feel sorry for everybody who has died in war. They'll always be in my heart." 8th grader Michael Vila said.

Today's unveiling of phase one of the restoration of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial marks the beginning of phase two.

The Memorial's "Duty to Remember" campaign, which is funding the restoration, hopes to raise $500,000 to open the Spruce Street Side of the memorial to deter vandalism.

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