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'Cost of Freedom' Traveling Wall Comes to North Bay

The tribute will honor veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq when it stops in Sonoma Nov. 7-11.

The Traveling Wall, a 360-foot-long, 80-percent-scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., will be brought to Sonoma next week, providing a special occasion for military veterans and their families.

The walll is the showcase piece in the Cost of Freedom Tribute, which will be brought to Sonoma Nov. 7-11 with help from VFW Bear Flag Post #1943.

The tribute to honor veterans from World War II, Korean, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq will be set up at Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building and Grounds, 126 First Street West.

This event is designed to bring healing, allow a time to educate youth and to honor U.S. military veterans and front line public safety personnel, according to a VFW news release. There will be a counseling service available 24 hours a day during the event, also a computer locator service on site to allow you to find a name on the wall and etch it onto a piece of paper.

There is a special 9/11 tribute and a Gold Tag Wall with the names of all fallen heroes since the Global War on Terrorism began. A special observation will be held to recognize Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers on Nov. 9 starting at 1 p.m.

The VFW Post expects an attendance of more than 5,000 people during the four-day event. Organizers say there will be a flyover of four T-38s from Beale Air Force Base at 1 p.m. Nov. 8 for the opening ceremony.

On Nov. 7, before the Wall arrives in Sonoma, it is going to stop at the Sonoma Raceway, according to organizers. At 3 p.m. it is going to leave the raceway and travel to the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building with an escort of approximately 200 Patriot Guard motorcycle riders and local emergency vehicles. They will come up Broadway and turn right on Napa Street, then left onto 1st Street East and proceed to the back entrance of the Veterans Building. They estimate arriving there at 3:40 p.m.

The VFW Post members will unveil a new exhibit in honor of POW/MIAs which will be presented by Chapter 78, Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 223.

The VA mobile information van will be on site to assist and answer questions from veterans in need. Indoor displays and information booths will be set up to compliment the outdoor event. A Veterans Job Fair will be held at Vintage House, 264 First Street East, Sonoma, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 9.

Organizers continue to add guest speakers. Currently we have confirmed Bob Whitworth, author of the book Through My Eyes: A Story of Hope; Major General David Baldwin, Adjutant General of the California National Guard; Kate O’Hare-Palmer, Army nurse who served in Vietnam; Holly Watts, a Red Cross “Donut Dolly” volunteer who served a year in Vietnam; retired FBI Special Agent Gordon Perlow and former Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert.

See the COFT flier and draft of the program schedule, and check the VFW for updates on www.vfwpost1943.org and www.avtt.org.

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