SOUTH SIOUX CITY | Hundreds of Vietnam veterans filled Siouxland Freedom Park on May 18 to pay tribute to their fallen comrades.

Inscribed on the half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall are the names of more than 58,000 people who died in the Vietnam War.

South Sioux City's 250-foot black granite wall is the only exact replica that duplicates the original design in Washington, D.C. The granite came from the same quarry in India.

The wall's completion officially opened a segment of Phase I of the $4 million, 55-acre park, at 1101 Foundry Road, dedicated to those who have served and died for their country.

The John Douangdara Memorial War Dog Park was completed on Memorial Day 2013. It is dedicated to U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Douangdara, a South Sioux City native, who died Aug. 6, 2011, when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.

When finished, the park will include a visitor's center, an amphitheater, family leisure space and walking trails.

Siouxland Freedom Park started from the desire of local veterans and others to have a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall replica on permanent display in the region.

The idea arose after more than 11,000 people from across the area visited a traveling replica of the Wall erected on the riverfront for a few days in October 2007.

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