“We remember our soldiers so their memory doesn’t die – the monument will be here in the capitol to honor those who have given their life for our country and to welcome those who came back.”
“It will forever serve as a reminder of the supreme sacrifices made by so many Texans who served in this war.”
Every year a million visitors to the Texas State Capitol grounds are met by a collection of monuments that stand as sentries of the past to remind us of the service and sacrifice of Texans in times of war. Now the estimated half-million Texans who served, and the 3,417 young sons of the Lone Star State who perished, in the Vietnam War will be honored alongside the Heroes of the Alamo, the Confederate Soldiers, and Texas veterans of World War I, World War II and the Korean War.
Nestled in dappled shade on the northeast side of the Capitol grounds, the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument will stand as a permanent reminder that 105 Texas men who answered the nation’s call remain Missing In Action in Vietnam. It will honor 17 Native Texans who earned the nation’s highest commendation, the Congressional Medal of Honor. And it will forever be a place where visitors can reflect on and honor every Texan who fought for and served the country with honor and courage during America’s war in Vietnam. The Monument is tentatively scheduled for dedication in the fall of 2013.
As the physical and symbolic center of state government, the Texas State Capitol and its grounds are carefully managed by the State Preservation Board. Additions to the grounds must be legislatively approved, and in May 2005, during the 79th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Representative Wayne Smith co-sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 36 authorizing a Vietnam War monument on the Capitol grounds.
H.C.R. No. 36, 79th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature
Beginning September 1, 2011, donations to help build the monument are matched dollar-for-dollar by the Texas Historical Commission to a maximum $500,000. Monument groundbreaking is scheduled in March and dedication is anticipated in Fall 2013.
The Texas legislature has also declared March 29 to be Vietnam Veterans Day. In association with that week’s celebrations of Vietnam War service, a Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument will be held March 24 and 25, 2013. Volunteers are invited to participate in a Reading of The Names of the Texans who died in the Vietnam War.
Vietnam War veterans often say, “I left Vietnam, but Vietnam never left me.” At its height in the late 1960′s, some 500,000 Americans were deployed to Southeast Asia, thousands of them from Texas. The Lone Star State was second only to California in the number of its sons and daughters sent to Vietnam. When their nation called, Texans of every stripe left the small towns and big cities and farms and ranches to serve in every capacity in the difficult and bloody fight.
They were infantry soldiers and marines, sailors, helicopter and jet pilots and crews, nurses and doctors, and support personnel. They endured harsh weather and constant danger and the loneliness and heartbreak of separation from their loved ones in a war that that grew increasingly controversial. Many returned with lifelong wounds – seen and unseen – to a war-weary nation. While the Vietnam War is history for some, the healing continues for others.
The Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument is accompanied by an online “Living Monument” capturing the stories of Texans affected by the Vietnam War. Stories are keyed to an interactive map of Texas, illustrating the hometown sacrifice of Texas during the Vietnam War. Texas veterans, families and civilians affected by the war are invited to contribute their photographs and stories to this educational archive that brings the monument to life.
The 14-foot-high bronze sculpture of an infantry patrol, surrounded by bas-relief panels depicting all those who supported the core fighting force, will stand on a granite pedestal that matches the Capitol itself. Benches will welcome visitors to reflect on the evocative pose of the radioman as he watches the sky for the incoming rescue helicopter, the dedicated medic delivering blood to a wounded comrade, the thousand-yard stare of the infantryman who has seen far too much in these past days of his young life.
Just as a visit to the Texas Capitol reminds us of William B. Travis and Sam Houston, of Civil War soldiers and of Texans who scaled the cliffs at Normandy, now that visit will remind us of the dedication, the commitment, and the sacrifice of our Lone Star State heroes in Vietnam.
Once, America sent them to war. Your tax-deductible donation, matched 100% up to $500,000 by the Texas State Historical Commission will help Texas to welcome them home. Please contribute today to help us build the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument.