A Trip to Remember
After graduating high school in 1962, Fred Parrot enlisted in the U.S. Army; that enlistment landed him in Vietnam twice between 1964 and 1967. Last week, it also landed him in D.C. for the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Memorial.
"I told my wife I have to do this," Parrot said. "I have to do this in honor of the men I served with."
Between Wednesday and Saturday, Parrott was one of 2,000 volunteers who read the 58,256 names inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial for those killed in action or missing, but he says even a quarter-of-a-century later, "The Wall" still touches millions.
"When you go up to "the Wall," and you find a name of someone you knew, and you can actually see people touching the names - that's what we all did, we feel the name," he explained. "It makes you feel like he's there again, and he really is."
Parrott made the trip from Gainesville with his wife, but he also had the support of members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2811 and the Men's and Ladies' Auxiliaries.
"He said well, "you know I've been invited to read the names on "The Wall," but I haven't told anybody." I said buddy you told the wrong person," Sheryl Baer, President of the Ladies' Auxiliary, recalled.
Members gave Parrott more than $500 to make the trip, but he said he would pay any amount to do it again. According to Parrott, he used the gift to defray the cost of traveling, but a large portion was left over, which he donated that to the wall itself.
"My biggest worry was mispronunciation of a name, so I practiced several weeks prior to getting there," he said.
Leading to 7:04 Thursday morning, when Parrott read his list of 30 names and 7:06, when he did one more thing.
"They told us not to do any gestures, but I felt like I had to salute "The Wall." So I saluted "The Wall" as I turned around and left the stage."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News.