|Published:||Nov 30, 2012 12:50 PM EST|
|Updated:||Nov 30, 2012 12:55 PM EST|
ENGLEWOOD, Fla. - Eighth-grader Samson Del Torto has a special connection with the military and with the Vietnam War.
"My grandfather was in Vietnam, and my dad served in Somalia," Del Torto said. "I look at both of them as heroes."
Friday morning, he and 300 of his classmates at L.A. Ainger Middle School had a chance to see and touch the full scale of U.S. military casualties as a result of that conflict.
"No matter what they did, they made the ultimate sacrifice to save our country," 14-year-old Del Torto said.
For just a few days, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall rests in Englewood. It's a smaller scale version of the original one in Washington, D.C., but the impact, teachers hope, will be just the same.
"You can see (the war) in movies, you can read about it in books, but really with this (wall) around you, it really gives you that feel that, yes this really did happen," said Matt Whelden, Assistant Principal at L.A. Ainger.
The wall is about 300 feet long and contains more than 58,000 names of the fallen.
For 13-year-old Madison Sayers, another student, connecting with family members who died in the war is easier just by touching the memorial.
"I feel bad for anyone coming here to see another family member because it hurts, but it's nice to have them on the wall and to be remembered," Sayers said.
The wall is set up at the corner of West Dearborn Street and Mango Street. It's free to the public 24 hours a day until Monday morning at 8, when it is packed up and brought home.
There is a special memorial ceremony Saturday at 10 a.m. at the wall, which is open to the public.
For more information on the wall, visit www.travelingwall.us.