BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) — With a rolling honor guard escorting the way, the American Veterans Traveling Tribute pulled into the Anoka County Airport in Blaine.
Volunteers spent four hours assembling a nearly full-scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., simply called the “wall,” as it’s inscribed with the names of 58,253 men and women who gave their lives in Vietnam.
Len Burgers spent the past two years arranging the visit.
“It’s not a memorial to the war, it’s a memorial to the people that fought and died in it,” Burgers said.
Piece by piece, 360 feet of inscribed black panels have to be erected into the aluminum framework. Vietnam veteran Joe Aragon was among the volunteers lifting each panel into place.
Aragon studied the dates at the bottom of the panel and then lifted the one that carries his younger brother’s name, Henry “Tommy” Aragon, who was killed on Aug. 23, 1976.
“Yes, he’s on this panel right here,” Aragon pointed out.
It’s moments like this which help explain why the Vietnam Memorial is so powerful and personal.
Aragon wiped away the tears and adjusted his glasses, saying simply, “it still hurts.”
The other attractions at Blaine’s Discover Aviation Days on June 1-3 will be more educational than emotional. The annual event is an opportunity for the public to learn and experience all aspects of flying.
“We have Vietnam-era aircraft, World War II aircraft, corporate jets and so you get to see all aspects of aviation provided here at the Blaine Airport,” said event coordinator Craig Schiller.