Sunshine, honorable messages, song, prayer and bright colors of nations graced a special ceremony commemorating South Vietnam Armed Forces Day at the joint American-Vietnamese War Memorial at Les Grove Park on Saturday.
Veterans gathered to remember and honor the military men and women who fought for the freedom of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
South Vietnamese military veterans celebrate the holiday internationally. The day was celebrated annually in South Vietnam, and after the nation’s fall on April 30, 1975, Vietnamese communities continued to acknowledge it worldwide.
The Thu-Duc Academy Association organized the event at Les Gove Park.
“We would like to honor all South Vietnamese, American and allied solider for coming here,” said Lan Phan Jones, co-president of the American-Vietnamese War Memorial Alliance and a founding member of the memorial in the park. “I am from a younger generation. I appreciate your service in my country.”
Auburn’s Vietnamese-American War Memorial Alliance project began more than 11 years ago to honor the sacrifices of Americans and Vietnamese soldiers. The project’s vision grew from a local veteran’s effort to honor all the other allied forces and the thousands of Canadian volunteers who joined the U.S. military to support South Vietnam, making Auburn’s memorial unique.
The city of Auburn provided land for the memorial. The alliance raised the money and built the memorial, which was officially dedicated last year.
“We appreciate the fact that this monument was placed here with the approval of the city of Auburn,” said Pete Lewis, former three-term mayor of Auburn, Vietnam veteran, alliance project leader and a founder of the memorial project. “We understand that it is all you who have made this monument possible … the monument is here because of you, your service, your work and your contributions. This is a special place for events for our communities, their children and their children to always remember.
“We all share a comm0n memory and experience,” Lewis told the crowd. “You will always be welcomed in my heart.”
The memorial’s central display features the yellow, red, and green emblem for Vietnam War veterans, an image of the Mourning Soldier, and inscriptions in English and Vietnamese. Granite panels honor American and South Vietnamese military. The memorial permanently displays the U.S. flag and the former Republic of Vietnam flag, also known as the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom flag. Individual granite tiles on the Wall of Honor recognize individual Vietnam War veterans, living and dead.
The alliance is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization.
Learn more at HonorVietnamVets.org.