In the years passed since the Vietnam War ended, US citizens have sought to memorialize and honor those who never made it home. Across the country these tributes have been constructed and designed to portray the conflict and help the younger generations understand what these true american heroes have gone through.
The following excerpts and photos are taken from the book Fallen Never Forgotten: Vietnam Memorials in the USA.
Fallen Never Forgotten covers over 50 Vietnam veterans memorials in the United States, including every state along the way. For more information about the book or to purchase please click here
The Ohio Veterans’ Memorial Park is located in Clinton, Ohio and is dedicated to the local heroes from each branch of the military who have served in both times of peace as well as war. It was created to help everyone remember that there are men and women who sacrifice themselves for the freedom of their country. The park is accessible seven days a week, 24 hours a day and is lit at night for the convenience and safety of the visitors.
While visitors can come and go as they please, there are special events held at the memorial on days of remembrance. Veterans can also pay to have a piece of the memorial customized for themselves (families of fallen veterans can do this for their lost loved ones, too). Besides the Vietnam memorial, the park also holds other war memorials.
The park itself was funded by donations from individuals, businesses, civic groups, houses of worship, and other organizations who were looking to thank the local veterans. Fundraisers were set up for the initial start of the memorial and continued through the construction of the monument. The Vietnam memorial was dedicated in 2009 following the dream of Ohio resident Dan Delarosa who was looking for a way to honor his brother who died during his tour in Vietnam.
The main portion of the Vietnam memorial is the memorial wall. It is a 125-foot long black granite wall that features the names of the over 3,000 service members who lost their lives in the war. There is also an inscription on the wall that simply says “Lest We Forget.” Recently more casualties surfaced and will soon be added to the wall besides that the memorial is constantly evolving and has other components including a mounted helicopter and a military truck. There are plans to add a tank to the memorial, too.
There is also a serene reflection pond dedicated to the prisoners of war and missing in action service members. This scene is made complete by a freestanding field cross.
Angel Fire, New Mexico
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park is the only state park in the country that is completely dedicated to the Vietnam veterans. The on-site chapel and visitor’s center offers educational resources as well as space for people to reflect on the sacrifice of all veterans in order to help people learn and heal through remembrance.
This unique memorial came about due to the efforts of Victor and Jeanne Westphall. The two lost their son, Marine First Lieutenant David Westphall in May 1968 when his unit was attacked in Vietnam. They used David’s insurance policy to start the construction of the Peace and Brotherhood Chapel overlooking the Moreno Valley. This is the same chapel that stands in the Memorial Park today and is open to the public 24 hours a day.
Since its dedication in 1971, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park was supported by the David Westphall Veterans Foundation. In 2005, the park became an official state park, but it’s still operated by the David Westphall Veterans Foundation in partnership with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park Friends Group. Due to this partnership, the park is accessible without a fee to the public.
The park has multiple features including the aforementioned chapel. There is also a visitor center that boasts a media room where an 86-minute documentary on Vietnam is shown. There is also a research library with photos of service members who died in action or who are still considered missing.
On the site, there is also a Huey helicopter that was used in Vietnam. It was damaged during a March 1967 rescue mission and returned to the US for repairs. It ended up in the care of the New Mexico National Guard who donated it to the Memorial Park. In addition to these features, the park also houses a Doug Scott statue named “Dear Mom and Dad” as well as a model of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial that was dedicated in 1993 in the Washington Mall in Washington D.C. Visitors will also have access to the cemetery in the park, a water garden, and a memorial walkway. Memorial and Veterans day services are held here each year.
Homdel, New Jersey
The New Jersey Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial is located in Holmdel, New Jersey at the PNC Bank Arts Center. It is not only a memorial, it’s also a museum that attracts visitors from all walks of life. The museum holds exhibits coinciding with the memorial, including timelines of events that happened in both the US and Vietnam during the years of the Vietnam War and an exhibit of letters and photos sent home by veterans during the conflict.
The memorial, like other monuments, was created as a way for the state to honor the local men and women who served bravely in the war. The memorial, which is outside of the museum, is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no fee.
The Vietnam War memorial was complete on May 7, 1995, and was dedicated around the same time. It’s conveniently located on the grounds of the PNC Bank Arts Center (formerly known as the Garden State Arts Center). It was designed by a refugee from South Vietnam named Hien Nguyen.
The construction was made possible thanks to a collaborative effort of individual donors, businesses, civic organizations, multiple New Jersey counties, and veterans’ groups. The cost of the whole project was estimated to cost around $5 million and was made possible through donations of materials and labor by generous private contractors. To offset the cost of the memorial, people were also able to apply their donation to either the cost of paving stones for the walkway or to the cost of one of the black granite wall panels.
The memorial is expansive (it takes up 200 feet in diameter) and consists of different components. There is a retired 1964 Huey helicopter complete with two mannequins inside as well as functioning lights and speakers that play helicopter sounds. Surrounding the area is a granite wall made up of 366 panels in order to symbolize each day of the year. The wall features the names of local service members who passed on each individual day. In the middle of the open-air pavilion are statues honoring the veterans including the nurses of the Vietnam War. The sculpture made by Thomas J Warren consists of a wounded soldier reaching out for another soldier while a nurse tends to his wounds. This memorial hosts thousands of visitors per year including class trips, and a great turnout for the Memorial and Veterans day services.
The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located in Memorial Park overlooking the state Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky. It was created to honor the men and women who served the nation during the Vietnam War. The memorial is always open to the public and is one of the most visited sites in the state, but there are certain days where visitors can check out special ceremonies. The Vietnam memorial plays host to these ceremonies on Armed Forces Day, Flag Day, Memorial Day, POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day.
The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial was made by Helm Roberts who was not only an architect but was a veteran. Construction of the project began in November of 1987 and was completed by the summer of 1988 and ready for its dedication in November of the same year.
The memorial came about through the collective efforts of local Vietnam veterans, some members of the General Assembly, the National Guard, and a few members of the state’s Executive Branch. The money needed for the project was raised through the Memorial Foundation known as KVVMF, a non-profit corporation that has been tapped to maintain the monument and grounds. While no tax dollars were used to create the memorial, the land was leased to the Foundation by the state “in perpetuity.”
The Vietnam War memorial is made of 327 cut granite panels from a quarry in Georgia that weigh over 215 tons. The names featured on the stones were etched using the same lettering that appears on grave markers in Arlington National Cemetery. This memorial is set up to resemble a sundial and features the names of the 1,104 Kentucky citizens who passed in the Vietnam War. The names were placed in a way so the sundial’s shadow highlights the veteran’s name on the anniversary of their death. In addition to this, the sundial points to the inscription “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” at exactly 11:11 a.m. on November 11 each year. The memorial also features the POW/MIA flag, the American flag, and the Kentucky state flag flying over the monument.
The Community Veterans Memorial is located in Munster, Indiana’s Veterans Park. The park is six and a half acres large and features multiple monuments and sculptures representing the multiple wars and conflicts that have happened across the 20th Century. It was created in order to remember all of the service members who participated in the wars, including the Vietnam War. The committee who put the park and memorials together also want to educate the visitors about the downsides of war instead of glorifying the heroics of war. This is done as a way to try and stop the cycle of war and make room for peace. The park is open from dawn to dusk and is free to the public, but there are special events held at the location. There is a Veterans Day ceremony every year as well as a Pearl Harbor Remembrance ceremony in the park.
Following the vision of Edward P. Robinson, the park memorials, including the Vietnam Memorial, was made by Julie Rotblatt-Amrany and her husband Omri and made possible through the efforts of Robinson and the Veteran’s Committee. The park as a whole was dedicated officially in June of 2003 but was commissioned to the Rotblatt-Amrany pair in 1999.
The Vietnam Memorial is made up of multiple components and is made in a way to recreate the Vietnam War from the ground up. The artists recreated the rice paddies of Southeast Asia and set up their monuments within the recreation to make everything look more realistic. There are seven monuments set up throughout the Vietnam Memorial site which is linked to the other war memorial sites by a commemorative brick path that is made up of donated/sponsored bricks.
The memorial consists of a retired Huey helicopter sitting in a rice paddy, a map of Vietnam etched into granite with images of the war, three sculptures of M-16s with flowers sticking out of their barrels positioned on a stack of bricks, a wall sculpture depicting a nurse with a wounded soldier, a recreation of a Buddhist temple in ruins, and two bronze sculptures. One statue is a depiction of a creeping soldier with his weapon in his hand while the other, more somber statue, is that of a fallen combat soldier who is lying face down on red stones; his legs are missing.
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