SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information

 

 


 His jungle pack slung low, his rifle and K-bar at the ready, he moves cautiously through the muddy, waist-deep canals and razor-sharp elephant grass on another search and destroy mission. The air is heavy, hung with humidity and the sulfur stench of the smoke that still lingers from a recent nearby firefight. Overhead, he hears the “whomp, whomp, whomp” of the medevac chopper headed to the nearest field hospital with the day’s wounded. In one outstretched hand, he holds the dogtag of a fallen brother who won’t be making that trip, another young soldier whose innocence and bravery will one day be remembered on a wall of honor. He’s weary, in mind, body and spirit, fighting a war in appalling conditions, with no clear front, against an enemy who could be hiding anywhere and everywhere.

The South Dakota Vietnam War Memorial is a tribute to the veterans who returned home from the war to fight a sometimes more painful battle on the homefront.  Vietnam was the first war to be brought directly to the American public’s living room with an unending display of graphic imagery: U.S. soldiers firing at unseen enemies in jungles and across rice paddies; medics dodging enemy fire to reach the side of a young soldier covered in blood and near death; and clouds of black smoke rolling skyward from the burning huts of a village destroyed to keep it out of the hands of the Vietcong. The merits of the war were not just debated at podiums and in war rooms but over dinner tables, in the streets and in the field itself.

As casualties increased and the war grew ever more unpopular in the United States, Vietnam soldiers heralded as heroes in the jungles were condemned as no better than criminals in their hometowns.  The South Dakota Vietnam War Memorial takes one soldier, as a symbol of the many South Dakotans who served during this violent conflict, and elevates him to the status they all deserve: brave individuals who served their country at a time when it took as much courage to come home as it did to fight.


 

 


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Photos courtesy of the U.S. Army, the National Archives and Records Administration,
the Dedication Committee, and veterans who have submitted their photos for use
in conjunction with the Vietnam War Memorial Dedication.

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