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Veterans Recall Lost Comrades

"I used to be hard as a rock. I'm like a marshmallow now," he said, tearing up. "You see your friends die, you see their heads blown off, you see their legs blown off. You never get over it."

A number of the World War II veterans planned to attend the ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which for 20 years has been the site of the main Veterans Day event on the mall.

Isaac Ferland, 6, of Noblesville, Ind., finds the name of his great uncle Scott Christopherson, who died in Vietnam in 1967, on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. (Michael Williamson -- The Washington Post)

The World War II Memorial's opening has spurred a generation to recall the war. These are their stories.
A Schedule of Memorial Events
To Those Who Fought Evil
Full WWII Coverage
___ Graphics ___
Guide to Memorial Dedication
Inside the Memorial
America at War: Atlantic | Pacific
___ Multimedia ___
Photo Gallery: WWII Memorial
Memorial Panorama
Video: Workers Add Final Touches
Black Marine's Story
Dedication of Memorial
___ Transcripts ___
WWII Reunion: Jim Deutsch, National World War II Reunion program curator was online to talk about this weekend's events.
WWII Memorial: Betsy Glick, director of communications for the World War II Memorial, was online to discuss the memorial's dedication and other events.
___ Recent Stories ___

By the start of the ceremony before the black granite panels filled with the names of dead troops, thousands of people had gathered to watch a presentation by the Armed Forces Color Guard and hear remarks by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a Vietnam veteran.

Leaning against a tree, an unlit cigar between his fingers, Hank Llewellyn, 58, said he drove down from Pottstown, Pa., to see old friends from his days as an Army machine gunner. As he has grown older, he said, he has become more appreciative of the simple fact that he survived.

"We try not to dwell on the pain," he said. "We try to talk about the funny times. Not that it was a comedy, but there was a lot that was funny. The adhesive of our relationships becomes stronger as the years pass."

Sarah Rogers, 30, of Fredericksburg, stood with her father, James Shipley, 73, who served as a sergeant in the Air Force, and wiped tears from her eyes.

"Just thinking about all those names on the Wall," she said, her arm curled around her 9-year-old daughter, Julia. Nodding toward Shipley, she said, "Had he died over there, I wouldn't exist."

Her father, wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, remained expressionless until his daughter walked away to smoke a cigarette. Then his lips trembled slightly.

"You realize that time does heal all wounds, but not completely," he said, head down, his fingers absently jangling a fistful of change in his pocket.

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