Mobile tribute brings tears, tough memories to Colorado town

DACONO, Colo. --  It took two years to finally bring it to their small town, but for local veterans, it has been worth the wait. A massive mobile war memorial opened to the public in Dacono on Thursday afternoon.

The American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Wall is an 80 percent replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. The names of all 58,307 troops killed or missing in action are engraved on the moving wall's 360-foot long, 8-foot-tall face.

Last summer, co-organizers Barb and Greg Goettsch decided they wanted to do something special to observe the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

With the combined effort of the local VFW, Rotary, American Legion, local government and the Girl Scouts, the Remembrance Committee managed to bring the wall to town.

According to Greg Goettsch, the VFW Post 9741 quartermaster, the traveling tribute is a way to bring a national treasure to vets who can't travel to Washington.

"I've had many people say that people come here to touch the wall and it touches them," Goettsch said. "It's very emotional and it varies with the person. Some people it will soothe. Some it will make angry and some it will bring up pain."

That's true for Vietnam War veteran Steve Newton.

"I had jungle rot so bad during the monsoons that I had toes bleeding in between them," he said. "You could never keep your feet dry."

The American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Wall is at the Furniture Row Center in Dacono at 3440 E. I-25 Frontage Road.

The memorial is open to the public from 1 p.m. on Thursday to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free and it's open 24 hours a day. It's also handicap accessible.