One by one they read the names of the 1207 Alabamians killed in action and 16 who went missing in action during the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam Veterans Tribute marks the 50th anniversary of the United States entering into the Vietnam conflict.
“It’s a crucible. There’s pressure and problems and you’re stretched to your limit in a lot of ways,” said Vietnam Veteran James Henderson, who also led the ceremony’s invocation.
Mayor Tommy Battle, leaders from Redstone Arsenal, veterans and their family members all read off the names of the killed and missing in action veterans. After each name, they rang a bell, and lit a candle after each reading.
For many in attendance, the tribute was a long time coming
“I think it’s finally making people realize how much hurt they went through and how long it has taken to get everything done,” said Kathy Hooper, whose father served in the Vietnam War.
Hooper was five years old when her father returned from war.
“I ran through the gates they told me not to run through, and my daddy picked me up in his arms and covered me in his uniform as people spit on him. And I remember that,” said Hooper.
“I’ve made it a life-long goal to be an advocate and make sure nobody comes home like that again.”