CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) — Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at the Mahoning County Vietnam War Veteran Memorial for a laying of the roses ceremony.
“I want to be here, just because I can be here. I’m one of the lucky ones,” said Vietnam War veteran Jim Fortunato.
Two of his friends’ names are listed on the memorial: Gregory Ross and Robert Stanko.
“I come for the 103 Mahoning County Vietnam veterans whose names are on the wall. Who paid the sacrifice that I didn’t have to … I’ve been able to live my life and have dreams. Theirs ended in their early life. Their parents, their relatives: the war never ends for them,” Fortunado said.
Many others were not as fortunate.
“This is a remembrance of those who sacrificed their lives… I have a cousin and a schoolmate that’s on the wall,” said event organizer and Vietnam War veteran Stanley Clingerman.
Clingerman organized the service and passed out roses.
After laying a rose at the foot of the memorial, surviving family members of the fallen were greeted by Austintown High School students with a token of remembrance.
“We passed out gold star pins to gold star families. They are the family members of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Students Serving Veterans member Alexis Davis.
Veterans who did not have family in attendance were still honored with a rose and a salute from fellow soldiers.