Opinion

Joint war memorial should be all inclusive | Guest op

BY JESSE JOSE
For the Auburn Reporter

In reference to your front page story ("Veteran pushes for joint war memorial," Auburn Reporter, Aug. 16), I, too, have something to say. I am a Vietnam-era veteran, a U.S. Navy retiree and a member of the VFW Post 1741.

I, too, have laid my life on the line for this country, and if called upon to do it once more, I'll heed my country's call without hesitation. And I, too, have lived in this town for over a decade now and have grown fond of this little town.

I do not agree with this Joint American/Vietnamese Memorial.

First of all, though the building of it will be funded by private a special interest group, and not by taxpayers, it will be built in a public park owned by us taxpayers. And from what I understand, the maintenance of this memorial when built, will be shouldered by the City of Auburn, which is also us, the taxpayers. So, this proposed joint war memorial is not exactly a privately-funded idea. It only appears that way. The City of Auburn will be left holding the bag in the end.

That money could be better spent on fixing roads and other worthy projects in improving our town that would benefit all residents of our town, not just a special interest group.

Second, why only a joint memorial with the Vietnamese? Why only with these people? From what I understand, from Mayor Lewis information, this idea was "brought" to Auburn by the state VA director. That's fine.

But what about other allies who fought alongside America's warriors in other wars? Like my Filipino ancestors, who volunteered and fought bravely with American soldiers, not only in World War II, but also in Korea during the war there, and in World War I in Europe. And their loyalty to America have remained steadfast and strong, and got passed on down from one generation to another ... like my own generation.

Many of my generation enlisted in the U.S. Navy and volunteered to fight for this country during the war in Vietnam. My ancestors and my generation also deserve this kind of joint memorial, don't we?

What about the Japanese-Americans at the outset of World War II, who were living then in America and volunteered to fight for America, in spite of the fact that their native country then was the "enemy," yet their loyalty remained with America? They also deserve this kind of memorial, don't they?

What about those South Korean soldiers who also fought bravely alongside America's warriors during the war there? Surely they also deserve this kind of joint memorial, don't they?

A joint memorial for America's allies in other wars should also be "brought" to Auburn to honor their war dead.

Third, if our town is going to build a joint memorial park, by all means, let's build it. But let's include all the loyal allies who have joined America's soldiers in bravely fighting for America's ideals and way of life. Let's don't leave anybody out.

And, let's fly the Star and Stripes above all other national flags. We, veterans and members of the VFW Post 1741 fought and laid our lives on the line primarily for this flag. No other flags were relevant to us then; no other flags are relevant to us now.

Fourth, if supporters of this Joint American/Vietnamese Memorial are adamant in building this memorial, let them build it on a privately-bought land and maintain it with their private funds.

Jesse Jose is an Auburn resident and regular contributor to the Auburn Reporter.

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