Veterans bury memories of fallen soldiers

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* By Sandra T. Molina Pasadena Star-News *

Whittier, CA. –  One by one, they stepped up, took a shovel filled with dirt and dropped it onto a concrete vault. It was placed in the ground Friday at the garden at Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary.

Veterans place their hands on the vault containing the momentos left at the traveling Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall during a ceremony at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier on Friday April 9, 2010. More than 2,000 momentos were left at the traveling wall during the 10-day display last month. The vault is placed among the Veterans Honor rose bushes in the rose garden. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Keith Durflinger)

Some wore uniforms, some T-shirts and baseball caps with “Vietnam Veteran” embroidered on them.

The men were saying goodbye once again to those who did not come home from Vietnam.

Inside the stainless steel-lined coffin-shaped vault were flowers, letters, photos, jewelry and other mementos left at the base of the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall during its 10-day stay earlier this month at Rose Hills.

The 1,625 items – which also included a dollar bill, a guitar pick, dog tags, a Vietnam map and a baseball – were left by family, friends and those not even born when the Vietnam War was fought, as a sign of respect to the 58,000 men and women killed or missing in action.

“Nothing was too small or insignificant,” said Bruce Lazenby, Rose Hills executive director of business development. He oversaw the wall’s visit.

“This is the final act of respect and appreciation,” Lazenby told the 50 veterans and family and friends of veterans gathered for the event.

More than 50,000 visited the wall, which stretched for 240 feet and stood 8 feet tall.

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