The names of nearly 60,000 Vietnam veterans who died in combat or were unaccounted for are etched on the memorial wall in Washington, D.C.
However, there are thousands more who have died as a result of their service in the war, even decades later, and those veterans will be honored today as part of the “In Memory Day” ceremony.
Among them is Theodore Williams Cantrell Jr., a U.S. Marine who at the time he served in Vietnam listed Greenville as his home, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
Cantrell served in Vietnam from 1965-69. He died April 12, 2011, fund spokesman Lee Allen said.
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For so many whose lives were cut short because of the war, their deaths don’t qualify for inclusion on the memorial wall.
A high number of deaths associated with combat service are related to post-traumatic stress disorder or effects from exposure to the cancer-causing defoliant Agent Orange, Allen said.
The memorial service involves reading aloud each of the names — this year there will be 121 — which will be put on certificates that will be placed at the memorial wall.
The certificates are later collected by the National Park Service and held in permanent archive.
The ceremony falls each year on Flag Day as well as during the Department of Veterans Affairs awareness month for PTSD.