Vietnam vets who died in combat honored with huge Chicago memorial

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A world renowned exhibit is being prepared right now for display in Chicago. It will show us how much life was lost in the Vietnam War, and recognizes veterans who never got the recognition they deserved.

Each dog tag represents an individual who died from combat in the Vietnam War: 58 thousand, 307 individuals in all.

"The original dog tags had your service number, blood type and religion. Well, when you're dead, it doesn't matter, just your name,” said ‘Above and Beyond’ artist Joseph Fornelli.

Printed on these tags is a name, date of death and branch of service. It is an expression of the war that was crafted by four men who were on the front lines.

One of them was Fornelli, who was an army helicopter crew chief.

"The bottom line was, we were speaking for people that couldn't speak, being an artist, and the ones that couldn't speak at all were the dead and what they had in common was a dog tag,” Fornelli said.

When the exhibit is finished, all tags will hang in place and illustrate the depth of the war.

"When I first saw it installed you immediately were overwhelmed with the massive sense of importance, the importance of war and what we had done as a society,” said Lionel Rabb, who is the National Veterans Art Museum Chairman.

"Every one of those dog tags has a name stamped on it and every name is connected to a person, and not only the person who died but their family their friends their communities and it was just massive,” said Brendan Foster, who is the National Veterans Art Museum Executive Director.

As each name is read, it is checked off a list. Then, the tag is cleaned and catalogued.

When the installation is complete, and placed at the Harold Washington Public Library downtown, a kiosk detailing each veteran's name and life will accompany it.

It’s an honor long overdue for those whom we cannot honor enough.

"These four veterans who made it gave a voice to 58 thousand people who had died there through art,” Rabb added.

The exhibit, which is rightfully titled "Above and Beyond," will be revealed to the public at the library on February 20th.

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