WASHINGTON - Remembering fallen brothers is a labor of love for volunteers who help with the upkeep of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
Frank Romeo, a Vietnam veteran from Bay Shore, is among the many who descend on the capital specifically to wash the memorial.
“I made a promise years ago that I wouldn't let people forget,” he says.
Romeo was a 19-year-old Army private in 1969 when Vietcong soldiers surrounded his outpost. He was shot and wounded, and he spent a year in the hospital. Since then, Romeo has lived with the memories of battle and the pain of losing 12 comrades.
“When I came home I just couldn't deal, I couldn't,” he says. “For many, many years, I couldn't talk to anyone. I had a very difficult time. A lot of us did.”
Some survivors say they suffer from survivor’s guilt and find cleaning the memorial as a way to cleanse themselves as well.
“It helps me knowing that I'm honoring them and I'm remembering them,” says Romeo.