Tree serves as living memorial to fallen veteran

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Memorial Day is when we take the time to remember the men and women who died serving our country.

Many people were out Monday, paying their respects and honoring those in the Armed Forces.

All across the country, people planted flags to celebrate the day, but in a corner of Riverfront Park in Harrisburg, a flag wasn't the only thing planted to remember a long lost childhood friend and Vietnam vet.

It's a living memorial to Lance Corporal Charles Bowersox Jr.

The tree honors the fallen Vietnam War veteran, making this Memorial Day one not to be forgotten.

Daughter Kelly Bowersox said "everyone in my family is military, but this year was really special because of what Dave did. "

Paul Dave Johnson said "since we were so close and grew up together, I think about 'Moses' all the time, and just planting this tree has helped my PTSD."

Life took the two childhood friends on two separate paths, with Bowersox, nicknamed 'Moses,' serving in the Marines, and Johnson serving in the Navy. Bowersox died in Vietnam. They were teenagers the last time they saw each other.

"For 40 years, I searched where he was buried at, and just one day in early 2015, I Googled his name," Johnson said.

It was that step which led Johnson to Bowersox's daughter Kelly, who now lives in Sacramento, California.

"That day that we spoke for the first time, was the first time in many years that I shed tears. And now every time I think of Moses, the tears just well up in my eyes," Johnson said.

"It's very touching. It's nice to have met somebody who grew up with my father ," Bowesox said.

Bowersox is equally moved by the tribute to her dad which grows at Riverfront Park.

"It's tough to even put it into words, but it makes me think of this actual part of Harrisburg every day," Bowersox said.

"It's helped tremendously, just planting this tree and knowing that people are going to recognize the tree, and the plaque that is there and remember me and Charlie, and the rest of the troops that got killed during that period of time ," Johnson said.

"To be able to come back here on Memorial Day, and see the tree actually growing, is pretty awesome," Johnson said.

The year 2016 is the first Memorial Day that Charles Bowersox Jr.'s friends and family gathered to celebrate his life at the memorial tree since it was planted in October."

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