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Article updated: 11/8/2013 5:51 PM

Emotional opening at Moving Wall in Aurora

More than 300,000 visitors are expected to view The Moving Wall at West Aurora High School, where it will be on display through Monday.

More than 300,000 visitors are expected to view The Moving Wall at West Aurora High School, where it will be on display through Monday.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Many area schools incorporated visits to The Moving Wall into their lessons and also brought students to view the nearby Healing Field of Honor.

Many area schools incorporated visits to The Moving Wall into their lessons and also brought students to view the nearby Healing Field of Honor.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Vietnam veterans Maurie Misner of Montgomery, George Litynski of Bolingbrook and Henry Kostanski of Oswego stand at attention during opening ceremonies for The Moving Wall Friday at West Aurora High School.

Vietnam veterans Maurie Misner of Montgomery, George Litynski of Bolingbrook and Henry Kostanski of Oswego stand at attention during opening ceremonies for The Moving Wall Friday at West Aurora High School.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Beda Hernandez, of Oswego, wipes away a tear during the opening ceremonies for The Moving Wall Friday at West Aurora High School.

Beda Hernandez, of Oswego, wipes away a tear during the opening ceremonies for The Moving Wall Friday at West Aurora High School.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Dozens of Vietnam veterans, including Greg Clementz of Oswego, stood to be recognized during Friday’s opening ceremonies for The Moving Wall.

Dozens of Vietnam veterans, including Greg Clementz of Oswego, stood to be recognized during Friday's opening ceremonies for The Moving Wall.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Judith Brown, who served in the Air Force from 1957 to 1960, said she wept through Friday’s entire program.

Judith Brown, who served in the Air Force from 1957 to 1960, said she wept through Friday's entire program.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Vietnam veteran Herschel Luckinbill was surprised Friday with a token of appreciation for his efforts bringing The Moving Wall to Aurora for the first time in 24 years.

Vietnam veteran Herschel Luckinbill was surprised Friday with a token of appreciation for his efforts bringing The Moving Wall to Aurora for the first time in 24 years.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Medal of Honor recipients Sgt. Sammy Lee Davis and Sgt. Allen James Lynch were recognized during Friday’s ceremony.

Medal of Honor recipients Sgt. Sammy Lee Davis and Sgt. Allen James Lynch were recognized during Friday's ceremony.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Oswego resident George Riforgiate found the name of his cousin Edward Zimmerman on The Moving Wall.

Oswego resident George Riforgiate found the name of his cousin Edward Zimmerman on The Moving Wall.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Ronald J. Juvingo, a Vietnam veteran, who served from 1967 to 1971, visited The Moving Wall Friday morning.

Ronald J. Juvingo, a Vietnam veteran, who served from 1967 to 1971, visited The Moving Wall Friday morning.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Vietnam veterans Wayne Young of Plainfield, left, and Peter Meier of Aurora view The Moving Wall before the opening ceremonies Friday at West Aurora High School.

Vietnam veterans Wayne Young of Plainfield, left, and Peter Meier of Aurora view The Moving Wall before the opening ceremonies Friday at West Aurora High School.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 Flowers, photos and other memorials left at the base of the wall were commonplace by Friday morning.

Flowers, photos and other memorials left at the base of the wall were commonplace by Friday morning.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

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Sgt. Allen James Lynch rescued three wounded soldiers during a December 1967 firefight in Vietnam and stayed behind to protect them when the rest of his company withdrew.

Lynch received the Medal of Honor in 1970 for his actions.

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Schedule of activities

2 p.m. Saturday: Recognition of Gold Star Families who lost loved ones in war
6 p.m. to midnight Saturday: A night out for veterans at Ballydoyle to benefit Honor Flight Chicago, a group that flies World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to view the World War II memorial
10 a.m. Sunday: A nondenominational healing service at the Moving Wall
2 p.m. Monday: A wreath-laying ceremony for all branches of the military
Dusk Monday: A candlelight vigil at the closing ceremony for the Moving Wall

On Friday morning, he and fellow Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Sammy Lee Davis were on hand for the opening ceremonies for The Moving Wall outside West Aurora High School. The wall includes the names of all the members of the American armed forces who gave their lives during the Vietnam War.

Lynch, of Chicago, said his emotions never run dry when visiting the monument.

"Every time I see that wall it's kind of a touching moment. It reminds me that I can do things that they can't. I can hold my grandchildren now ... they can't do that. I can grow old with my wife and we can say goodbye to each other when the time comes. They can't do that," Lynch said. "I could experience the joy of holding my grandbabies when they were born. They can't do any of that. They're not here."

Lynch wasn't the only one struggling with his emotions during Friday's observances at the wall, which will remain on display through Veterans Day.

The tissues all came out when members of the committee that brought the traveling monument to Aurora began reading the names of the 18 men from the city whose names are etched on the wall.

Aurora residents Paul and Linnea Lesnick, self-proclaimed patriots, made note of the location of each of the local men's names and made it a point to touch them all.

Tears and makeup rolling under her sunglasses, Linnea Lesnick managed a smile in one of the morning's lighter moments.

"They have benches and lights and a heated tent and that's all nice," she said. "But they need a trough to catch all these tears. There's not a person here who hasn't cried in the last 24 hours."

Air Force veteran Judith Brown, who served from 1957 to 1960, was responsible for typing battlefield orders during the Vietnam War. She called Friday's ceremony the most emotional she's ever attended.

"I'm a wreck. This was so beautiful. I cried all morning," she said. "I knew men on that wall and I'm here for them. I'm also here for every veteran who couldn't be here."

The Moving Wall, a three-fifths replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was escorted Thursday by hundreds of motorcycle riders to the practice soccer fields at West Aurora High School.

Also on display are the Illinois Fallen Heroes Traveling Memorial, a model of the World War II memorial and Aurora's Healing Field of Honor, which features 2,013 flags.

Scheduled activities continue through the weekend with a 2 p.m. Saturday recognition of local Gold Star families and a nondenominational service at 10 a.m. Sunday.

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