Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial brings healing

By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
East Windsor - posted Fri., May. 20, 2011
Vincent Marino (right) looks for his brother's name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial traveling wall with Jim Hendsey. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.
Vincent Marino (right) looks for his brother's name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial traveling wall with Jim Hendsey. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.

As a mother kneels before a wall of names, she explains to her young son that these names represent people who were not as fortunate as his grandfather to come home from the war. More than 58,000 Americans did not come home from Vietnam.

While this is a typical scene for Washington, D.C., it actually happened in East Windsor on Thursday, May 19. The East Windsor Veterans Commission and American Legion Post 40 worked for more than a year to raise money to bring The Wall That Heals - the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Museum - to the area.

The traveling wall is a half-scale replica of the original, and the accompanying museum provides visitors with exhibits chronicling the war.

Robert Petrelli, past commander and adjutant of the American Legion and a Vietnam veteran, said the ceremonies in East Windsor would pay special tribute to two often unnoticed groups: the war dogs and the Laotian Special Guerilla Units. Both groups were honored with a governor’s proclamation from state Rep. Chris Davis (R-Ellington).

“[The memorial is] important because people forget and need to be reminded that more than 58,000 Americans died in the war,” Petrelli said. “They answered a call to arms, and they fought for something.”

“It can bring closure to some, especially those who can’t get to Washington, D.C.,” said Ernie Teixeira, chairman of the Veterans Commission and Korean War veteran. “There are so many who’ve never seen it but are moved when they do,” he said. “It can provide healing.”

Vincent Marino understands this. He lost his brother in Vietnam. Carl J. Marino was killed during the Tet Offensive in 1968. He was one of four men from Enfield lost in the conflict.

“When you see it, it brings closure,” Marino said. “You still miss that person and wonder what their life could have been.” He shared that his 21-year-old brother was engaged during the war, and he thinks about what his children would have been like.

Now, 43 years later, Marino still remembers the day his mother was notified of Carl’s death, and the climb he made up the hill to tell his father.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” he said softly, through tears.

This is not the first time Marino has visited the traveling memorial. Each time it tours within close distance, he goes to read his brother’s name, as well as the names of others he knew.

“I go to see the other boys, one I went to school with,” he said. He pays respect to the other three from Enfield, though he did know them.

Marino hopes to one day visit the original memorial in D.C., but for now he finds peace each time he sees the replica. He said he would visit again on Saturday with his grandchildren, like he has done in the past. The tone of those visits are much lighter - Marino brings Carl’s medals and pictures for his grandchildren. “They like to see what he looked like,” he said.

Later, he will come back alone at night to reflect on his brother in the silence.

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