Hampton residents step out to salute “The Wall That Heals”

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HAMPTON, Illinois -

It still feels like the Fourth of July in Hampton on Wednesday, July 26.

Some three weeks later, dozens of folks line up along Route 84.  They're remembering those who served and sacrificed during the Vietnam War.

"I think it's a fantastic idea," said Sharon Debo.  "I think there's a lot of people here that really want to pay tribute."

Flashing lights lead the way just after 10 Wednesday morning.

"A sacrifice, that's what it is," recalled Keith Ward, Hampton.  "It's all about sacrifice."

Vietnam veteran Paul Egan, who served in the Navy from 1956-72, proudly waits.

"Vietnam was not popular," he recalled.  "But we all served with good intentions."

As this unusual convoy moves into Hampton, it's quite a sight for the Patriot Guard Riders.

"It got me a little choked up," said Del Moore, who was riding in the procession.

Emotional moments as a truck passes by moments later, carrying "The Wall That Heals."  It's a half-scale replica of the original memorial in Washington, D.C.

"Flag-waving kids," Moore recalled.  "Most of the people had their hands over their hearts as the big flags passed by."

A few minutes later, work begins at Western Illinois University in Moline.

Veterans and volunteers help to set up the wall at the River Drive campus.  For many, it symbolizes so much.

"We do know one gentleman wants to come in the middle of the night because his number was never called, and he lost so many friends," said Lora Adams, WQPT-TV, which is hosting a variety of events during the stop.

The exhibit opens on Thursday, July 27 and will remain open 24-7 through Sunday, July 30.  It's free and open to the public at 3300 River Drive in Moline.

That small town turnout in Hampton really sends a big message: a Fourth of July feeling designed to last all year long.