Vietnam veterans gathered in a solemn roll call at Brookings City Hall Friday evening to hear the names of those who died in that war.
Tears fell as various members of the veteran community read 672 names, including five who were from the Brookings area. The event is the traditional opening of the Memorial Day weekend.
"Each man we knew who fell in combat remains as old as he will ever be," said veteran Sam Vitale. "It is impossible to imagine what books he may have read or written, what children and dreams he may have nurtured. Most were dead before they truly lived."
"We who are combat veterans know something others will, thankfully, never know, something the movie screen will never portray, something 'real-time' media coverage can never communicate. We know the smell of war but don't possess the vocabulary to share the smell of death."
The event concluded with taps and a gun salute.
"I honor all 58,200 veterans who were killed in Southeast Asia," Vitale said, "and dedicate this moment to the five men from Brookings-Harbor who will be forever young in our memories."