04/17/13 — Welcome home: Wall's arrival a chance to give veterans tribute they missed

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Welcome home: Wall's arrival a chance to give veterans tribute they missed

Nearly 40 years ago, there were no cheering, flag-waving crowds lining the streets when those who served in Vietnam came home for the last time.

No tributes to their heroism -- or public memorials to the comrades they lost.

Tears from their families and friends, yes, but scorn from protesters attacking a war and those who served in it was really what most of those servicemen faced.

Turmoil, a nation divided and criticism were what they came home to all those years ago.

But Wayne County set that right Tuesday -- or at least made the wound a little less sharp.

More than 1,000 people gathered along Wayne Memorial Drive to welcome The Wall That Heals -- a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Some were there to honor loved ones, friends and comrades. Others were there to show their gratitude or to teach their children a little bit about the price of war.

All of them cheered and waved their flags with pride, and many had tears in their eyes as they thought about the thousands of names displayed on that wall.

County Sheriff Carey Winders and his deputies escorted the wall to Goldsboro. And a sea of more than 400 motorcycles joined the procession along the way.

It was the homecoming all those boys on that wall deserved, but never lived to see.

And it meant a lot to those who came home all those decades ago.

It was their homecoming, finally.

They will still deal with the scars -- those never go away. Not for anyone who has been in war. And going to the Wall themselves will be tough -- it is hard to be the one who came home.

But on Tuesday, their county let them know that although they were not allowed to complete their mission, their efforts were not in vain.

And that is as good a welcome home as a hero can get -- even if it is 40 years late.

Published in Editorials on April 17, 2013 10:57 AM