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Duluth honors Vietnam vets at annual memorial service

Staff Photo: John Bohn Dave Curtis of Lilburn, right, takes part in a veterans memorial service held on the Duluth Town Green on Saturday. Curtis is a veteran of both the United States Army and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Dave Curtis of Lilburn, right, takes part in a veterans memorial service held on the Duluth Town Green on Saturday. Curtis is a veteran of both the United States Army and the U.S. Coast Guard.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Robert Cash of Lawrenceville plays "Taps" during a veterans memorial service held on the Duluth Town Green on Saturday. Local veterans of a wide range of ages attended.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Dave Curtis of Lilburn salutes the nation's colors during a veterans memorial service held on the Duluth Town Green on Saturday. Curtis is a veteran of both the United States Army and the U.S. Coast Guard.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Kinh Nguy, 80, of Lawrenceville, attends a veterans memorial service held on the Duluth Town Green on Saturday. Kinh Nguy was born in Vietnam and served in the United States Air Force, flying combat missions in C-124 aircraft during the Vietnam war.

DULUTH -- For the 50th anniversary, Vietnam veterans were recognized by the city of Duluth, Mayor Pro Tem Marsha Anderson Bomar and President of Vietnam Veterans Alliance Marvin Myers on Saturday.

Beside the speakers, the public was also present to thank and honor all of the men and women who served during the Vietnam War.

During the ceremony, four teenagers from the Duluth High School Navy Junior ROTC presented the colors, Elliott Foss of the American Legion Department of Georgia said the opening prayer and Bomar gave the opening remarks.

Afterward, Myers took the podium and he remembered being a scared soldier getting ready for the Vietnam War. He didn't know what he was getting into and he didn't know how he would react once someone starting shooting at him -- or his friends.

But Myers wanted to make sure people thought about those who have come before us to give us freedom on Monday before heading to their barbecues and lakes. He was excited he was able to be a part of Duluth's celebrations.

"It was a very wonderful experience," Myers said. "I don't get nervous, but I get emotional about the whole thing."

American Legion Department Commander Bill Lienhop, Bomar and Myers handed out coins to all of the Vietnam veterans in the audience. The coins have an outline of Vietnam on one side and the five branches of the military on the other.

Near the end of the ceremony, Duluth's American Legion Riders Post 251 took the podium for its "Fallen Heroes Salute." The memorial is made of a helmet, rifle, dog tags, pair of boots, white teddy bear and rose, and flags.

After the laying, a lone horn player played "Taps" from the back of the audience.

"I think one of the foundations of this city is a heart for service and our country," Bomar said. "As you know we have our flags out for Memorial Day because it's so important to us. At every opportunity, we want to honor our service men and women. This is just one opportunity to bring the community together to do that honoring of the people who deserve it."

Throughout the rest of the weekend, Duluth has veteran memorial markers scattered throughout the city's roads during the national holiday.

The tradition started with 10 marker crosses. Now, there are more than 750 crosses placed through the streets of Duluth, which takes eight days to set up. The veteran markers are in the shape of a cross with an American flag to honor the deceased men and women.

For other Memorial Day celebrations in Gwinnett, visit www.gwinnettdailypost.com.