(BIVN) – A new Vietnam War Memorial will be unveiled at the West Hawaiʻi Veteran Cemetery next week, as America recognizes the 50th anniversary of the war closure marked as Vietnam Veterans Day.
The public is invited to join representatives from veterans organizations, elected officials and community leaders for the ceremony, which is set for 11 a.m. on March 29th. Organizers say the bells will toll “recognizing West Hawaii’s Vietnam War Killed in Action and their Gold Star families, concluding with the dedication and unveiling of the War Memorial.”
From the West Hawaii Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Association:
West Hawaii Vietnam War Memorial Vision
In late 2021, a few Vietnam war veterans formed what is now the West Hawaii Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Association to build a memorial in West Hawaii to stand as a symbol of honor the ultimate sacrifice and service to our county of the men and women who lost their lives and to promote healing and dignity to the surviving veterans of the Vietnam war. The memorial’s highest honor focuses on the fifteen West Hawaii service members who were killed in action during the war, one of whom was Sergeant First Class Rodney Yano, the only Medal of Honor recipient from West Hawaii to have received this honor. The Association dedicates this new memorial to the devotion of duty of all those who answered the call to arms to serve during one of the most divisive wars in the United States history.
“After many Honor Guard Ceremonies at the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery, it seemed like more and more Vietnam Veterans were passing away. We always assumed there must be plans to build a Vietnam Veteran War Memorial by the government. We later learned that it would take this dedicated group and the help of the community to make it happen,” said West Hawaii Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Association Chairman and Founder Mel Behasa. “We hope that this memorial will inspire others to continue to build memorials at the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery.”
The group has plans to continue with additional war memorials and tributes at the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery.
West Hawaii Vietnam War Memorial Build
The memorial stands 6ft high and 7ft long. Constructed by noted cultural practitioner, master mason Billy Fields who served as a Marine in the Vietnam War, the stonework is crafted from basalt rock. The memorial facial is constructed with a marbled green hued granite reminiscent to the group of how Vietnam looked from the air.
A brass plaque set on the memorial is a silhouette design in black of soldiers and helicopters in a tropical setting with a gold background. Between the dates of the conflict, 1959 and 1975, are the Hawaiian words “Ku koa i ka makani makaha,” meaning to stand bravely in the fierce winds. The memorial plaque continues to describe the bravery, soldiers equipment and includes a map of Vietnam. Mounted on the base of the Vietnam War Memorial are all the symbols of the US Military Armed Forces. Future plans include engraving the names, ranks, Date of Birth and Date of Death and hometowns of the 15 West Hawaii Vietnam War soldiers killed in action.
The public is invited to attend the dedication on Wednesday, March 29 at 11 am at the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery. The ceremony will include a pule (prayer), posting of the national and state colors and the singing of the national anthem. The West Hawaii Vietnam War soldiers killed in action will be recognized with the tolling of the bell and concluding with the dedication and unveiling of the War Memorial.