Hundreds honor fallen veterans in Nashville

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Memorial Day is celebrated at Nashville National Cemetery. George Walker IV / The Tennessean

Strangers before Monday, the same name inscribed on a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Madison brought them together.

Lisa Dunbell, Becky Amick and Dennis Amick met Jan Sawyers by happenstance while searching for Richard Amick’s name on the 360-foot-long wall that lists 58,272 names of soldiers who died during the war.

The traveling wall is an 80 percent scale of the original wall in Washington D.C., and it was on display at the Nashville National Cemetery through Monday.

“We had never met before today,” said Sawyers, a friend and neighbor of the late Richard Amick, who was killed serving in the Vietnam War. “This is unreal. I got cold chills right now.”

Lisa Dunbell never met her uncle, but she wanted to honor him on Memorial Day. Richard Amick’s brother, Dennis Amick, and sister-in-law, Becky Amick also paid their respects.

The group was among those gathered Monday at the cemetery for an afternoon ceremony to honor fallen veterans. Sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 80s didn’t deter hundreds of people from visiting the traveling Vietnam Wall and attending the hour-long ceremony that included remarks from Operation Stand Down Tennessee Director John Krenson.

“Today we remember those American sons and daughters whose names only returned to be etched on a wall, which we are fortunate to have with us today across this great cemetery,” Krenson said.

Before the ceremony started, people wandered the cemetery’s sprawling grounds and some gathered around graves. The 35,000 American flags that were placed on graves Saturday by scouts blew in the breeze. The Nashville Community Concert Band performed before the ceremony.

Allan Smith, who attended the ceremony with his wife Shauna Smith, said it was an emotional day for both of them. Allan Smith served in the Army from 1985 to 2004.

“I’m here to pay my respects and honor fallen heroes – men and women who served to provide us the freedoms that we enjoy,” Allan Smith said.

During his remarks, Krenson told stories of courage of those who served their country.

“How many of you have lost a battle buddy? A family member, a friend in combat in service overseas to our nation?” Krenson asked the crowd, prompting dozens of people to raise their hands.

“That is why we are here. That is why we are here in this day in May,” Krenson said.

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