Roll call in Punta Gorda honors veterans, lasts 4 days

This weekend may be about welcoming Vietnam veterans home, but this week, they want to honor those who didn’t return home.

On Monday, they started naming every single person on a wall who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The names of heroes – 58,318 soldiers – listed one-by-one to honor their sacrifice.

“I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for some of my Marine friends I had in Vietnam,” said Phil Jelen of Englewood. “I’m here in their honor and respect for what they did for this country.”

More than forty veterans volunteered to come out to read every soldier’s name who gave their life for their country.

Chuck De Ninno of Rotonda West said, “Everyone there on the list that I read gave their full measure of devotion to this country.”

Rick McCool said reading those names is breathtaking, and it nearly brings tears to your eyes.

And for one De Ninno, it did.

He recognized a name he read and broke down. Overcome with emotion – thinking about those who fought and died, “A lot of people are still remembering and suffering you know somebody dies like that they’re killed actually, and it’s not pleasant. The family, lost someone important to them. All the Christmases the Easters and the Thanksgiving dinners they never attended and their family keeps a place for them at the table.”

Roll call organizer Arthur McGinnis said he “grew up with six guys through grade school and high school who are on the wall, and so when I read the list of names that I have, I also add those names because for me those guys never got to be fathers and grandfathers. I don’t want to think about it. We’ve had good lives and they never got a chance to grow up.”

They are continuing to read those names on Wednesday. And they won’t stop until every name is read, which will happen at noon on Thursday.

This all leads up to the parade and celebration, including a flyover this weekend. Click HERE for more event information.

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