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Vietnam War heroes honored

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3,417 names of fallen Vietnam War soldiers from Texas read aloud at LBJ Library

3,417...that's the total number of Texas soldiers that didn't come home from the Vietnam war.

And their names were read aloud throughout the day at the LBJ Presidential Library.

"It's a way to pay tribute to them. It's a way to honor them as well as their families," said Robert Floyd, Chairman of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Committee.

Floyd says it's long overdue.

"I think that the Vietnam Veterans...when we came home, we were not welcomed home. I think that's one of the lessons this country has learned about our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have learned from the mistakes that many people made in blaming the soldier in Vietnam," Floyd said.

Veteran Bruce Rollman was one of the many readers. He says it's his first time to do something like this.

"It's an obligation I have to be here to do this. These fellows names would have been forgotten if the activities that are going on now weren't done and I'm just proud to be able to play a very small role in what was happening today," Rollman said.

Rollman says many soldiers including himself didn't even tell people they had been in the military when they got back.

He says the un-welcome feeling wasn't as bad for him because he came home through an Air Force base.

"Once I left the Air Force base, [I] never wore the uniform. Never even mentioned that I'd been in Vietnam until probably about 10 years after I had gotten home. And you could spot another vet very easily. It was almost like a secret code," he said.

Among the honored guests, Lyndon B. Johnson's youngest daughter, Luci.

She says as part of a family of Vietnam soldiers, her father was definitely thankful for the sacrifices troops made.

"Much of the rest of the world looked at the soldiers and expressed their angst over the situation to the men and women who were just there to serve their country. And we owed them better. Today...is better," Johnson said.

Meanwhile on the fourth floor of the library, those same 3,417 names were displayed in a brand new traveling memorial -- dog tags made letter by letter by Vietnam combat veteran Don Dorsey.

"When I was doing this, I did it one at a time and I really couldn't see what the big picture would be until we put it all together and it's pretty impressive," Dorsey said.

Dorsey says it's a 400 hour labor of love.

"That's the one thing that we can give them. We have to remember them and their sacrifices," Dorsey said.

And if you think 3,417 dog tags is a lot to make by hand, letter by letter, Dorsey actually made double that!

He made an entire second set that's going into a capsule entombed inside the new Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument at the State Capitol. The monument actually features Dorsey's likeness as well.

The groundbreaking for the new monument at the Capitol is tomorrow morning.

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