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Exhibit rolls into town

Motorcycle escort: Dozens of motorcyclists prepare Wednesday to escort the American Veterans Traveling Tribute from R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory downtown to Bennett’s Creek Park, which will be its home through Sunday evening.

Accompanied by the “rolling thunder” of 50 motorcycles, the American Veterans Traveling Tribute rolled through town yesterday, headed for a four-day engagement at Bennett’s Creek Park.

The “Cost of Freedom” exhibit opens today at 1 p.m. with a special ceremony that will include the posting of colors, a wreath-laying ceremony and a Marine Corps Reserve band.

Special events are planned throughout the weekend, but visitors are encouraged to attend at any time during the time the exhibit is open. Today’s hours are 1 to 6 p.m. The exhibit is open Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The mobile display honors those throughout history who have sacrificed for America. The centerpiece is an 80-percent replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., but the exhibit also includes memorials to World War II, the Korean War, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Fort Hood shooting, police and firefighters, prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action.

R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory, with the help of numerous sponsors, is bringing the exhibit to Suffolk to mark its 125th anniversary.

A fifth-generation family-owned business and the oldest establishment in Suffolk, R.W. Baker & Co. has witnessed more than a century of changes in the community and the nation.

“But our freedom remains steady and true, a testament to the American spirit and the valor of every service man and woman,” Robert N. “Blake” Baker, vice president of the funeral home. “We didn’t want to miss this momentous opportunity to honor all they’ve given to us.”

Organizers are expecting as many as 50,000 people to attend the event, which has been heavily publicized in newspapers, on television and on the radio.

The wall includes the names of more than 58,000 American service members who never arrived home alive from Vietnam. Of those, 1,304 were native Virginians and 344 came from Hampton Roads, according to Baker.

At the park, a computerized database will be available to help visitors find the name they are seeking. Free rubbing sheets will be available for visitors to take home a memento of the wall.

Admission to the park and the exhibit will be free.

A schedule of events follows:

THURSDAY

1 p.m.

Cost of Freedom exhibit opens

Posting of Colors

Doves Release

Bagpipes

POW, MIA and Gold Star Mothers wreath-laying ceremony

Invocation

Taps

Marine Forces Reserve Band

3 p.m.

Zinerva White, Vietnam Veteran decorated with two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star

Patriotic music

FRIDAY

1 p.m.

Marine Forces Reserve Band

3 p.m.

Opening ceremony

Posting of colors

Pledge of Allegiance

National Anthem

Invocation

Keynote speakers — Delegate Chris Jones and Col. Kevin D. King

Taps

Benediction

Retrieval of Colors

SATURDAY

Noon

Bayside Harley Owner’s Group (HOGs) Ride to the Freedom Tribute

3 p.m.

Posting of colors by Troop 1 and Suffolk Fire Department

Pledge of Allegiance

National Anthem

Invocation — The Rev. Michael Halley

Retrieval of Colors

Taps

5 p.m.

Reading of area names from the Wall and other memorials

SUNDAY

1 p.m.

Church service by retired Chaplain Bazil “Buz” Ballard

Ride to the Wall (300 motorcycles) leaving R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home

3 p.m.

Posting of colors by Troop 41

Pledge of Allegiance

Special music by Ray Bennett

National Anthem

Invocation by Chaplain Rochester, U.S. Coast Guard

Keynote speakers Marion “Turk” Turner and Dame Mary S. Baraco (World War II prisoners of war)

Benediction

Retrieval of colors

Taps by Jack Dougherty

5 p.m.

Tidewater Concert Band

6 p.m.

Closing